Session: Urban Youth Perspectives on Exposure to Community Violence: (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

26 Urban Youth Perspectives on Exposure to Community Violence:

Thursday, January 14, 2016: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Meeting Room Level-Mount Vernon Square B (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:
Caitlin Elsaesser, PhD, University of Connecticut
Katherine Tyson McCrea, PhD, Loyola University, Chicago
For youth growing up in impoverished, urban neighborhoods, exposure to violence is nearly unavoidable. By the time youth living in these areas reach adolescence, studies find that close to 100% of youth have been exposed to some form of community violence in their lifetime.  The majority of work in this area has examined urban youth exposure to violence using variable-oriented approaches.  These approaches establish that – at the aggregate level – violence is connected to poor outcomes. 

However, despite the widespread levels of exposure to violence, evidence suggests significant variation within these urban communities.  Not all youth experience the same rates of exposure over time.  Additionally, youth’s voices on the interpretation of violence in their communities have been notably absent in the literature.  Integrating person-oriented approaches is an important step to understanding the variation in the experience of exposure to violence. This symposium highlights three papers focusing on individual-oriented approaches to improve understanding urban youth exposure to violence.  Bringing together quantitative and qualitative work, these papers highlight youth perspectives on urban violence.

The first paper draws on a person-centered analytic approach to assess patterns of CVE over the course of adolescence and examine the connection between these patterns and young adult outcomes.  Results from growth mixture models indicate that distinct patterns of exposure to violence exist even within communities of high violence, and that these patterns are uniquely predictive of young adult outcomes.  The second paper employs semi-structured interviews to examine how Black and Latino youth living in violent Chicago neighborhoods conceptualize threats on social media and why they lead to violence in the community.  Findings highlight that threats on social media often lead to violence and are amplified when are spread. Finally, a third paper draws on case histories of youth in counseling services to identify the range of experiences of community violence exposure, as well as youth's perceptions of the societal response. Results underscore the broad range of experiences that fall within the domain of violence exposure, as well as the repeated failure of societal actors to provide supportive services to these youth.

* noted as presenting author
Patterns of Community Violence Exposure in Adolescence and Their Relation to Key Young Adult Outcomes
Caitlin Elsaesser, PhD, University of Connecticut; Deborah Gorman-Smith, PhD, University of Chicago; David Henry, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
What's a “True” Threat on Social Media? Qualitative Evidence from Black and Latino Youth in Chicago
Desmond U. Patton, PhD, MSW, Columbia University; Eddie Bocanegra, MSW, YMCA Metro Chicago; Alex Del Toro, YMCA Chicago
Nowhere to Turn to be Safe: Deepening the Understanding of Community Violence Based on Disadvantaged Youths' Perspectives
Katherine Tyson McCrea, PhD, Loyola University, Chicago; Maryse Richards, PHD, Loyola University, Chicago; Lauren Davis, MSW, Loyola University, Chicago; Cynthia Morote-Ariza, MSW, Loyola University, Chicago
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