Genomes and Genes




Principal Investigator: Eugene Aisenberg
Abstract: Community violence is a serious problem throughout the United States. Research on children living in an environment of community violence and the traumatic effects they suffer is relatively new (Cooley et al., 1995; Garbarino et al., 1992). It has focused predominantly on African-American youngsters (Hill and Madhere, 1996). Research has largely faded to take into account the psychological, emotional, and behavioral effects of the trauma of witnessing community violence on populations that are already chronically stressed by poverty (Hill and Madhere, 1996). Little is known about distress symptomatology, including PTSD, among school children exposed to community violence (Tyano et al., 1996). Research on the interpersonal context of children coping with community violence has been particularly sparse (Aisenberg and Ell, in review). Systematic research has not yet been conducted on the effects of chronic community violence and the caregiving environment (Osofsky and Scheeringa, 1997). The proposed study uses a two-stage assessment procedure to examine the behavioral, emotional, and psychological effects of witnessing community violence upon 120 Latino and African-American mothers and their sixth and seventh grade children at two urban public middle schools serving the same low income, high crime neighborhood in Los Angeles County. Utilizing a random stratified sampling design in which students will be stratified according to gender and race/ethnicity, the proposed study has five specific aims. It will: 1) identify and measure the type and frequency to community violence experienced by students of different racial/ethnic backgrounds and gender and explore differences based on maternal reports and student self-reports; 2) assess child distress symptomatology, namely, PTSD, depression and anxiety, based on reports from students and mothers; 3) describe and identify maternal exposure to community violence and other forms of violence such as sexual abuse based on self-reports; 4) assess maternal distress symptomatology, specifically PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and 5) examine and compare the mediating effects of the mother's symptomatology upon the child's symptomatology.
Funding Period: 2000-05-01 - 2001-04-30
more information: NIH RePORT