A Longitudinal Examination of Community Violence Exposure, School Belongingness, and Mental Health Among African-American Adolescent Males

Cynthia L. Pierre, Amanda Burnside, Noni K. Gaylord-Harden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

African-American males from urban communities are disproportionately exposed to community violence, placing them at increased risk for mental health problems compared to youth from other racial/ethnic groups. While risk factors for violence exposure have been identified in the literature, protective variables and competencies are studied with less frequency. The purpose of the current study is to identify the role of school belongingness as a protective factor against the deleterious outcomes associated with community violence exposure. Participants were 119 African-American male adolescents (M = 15.33, SD =.95 at Time 1) attending an all-male charter high school in an urban community. Consistent with prior research, community violence exposure showed a negative association with various measures of psychosocial functioning 12–15 months later, controlling for prior levels of functioning. Moderation analyses revealed that at low levels of school belongingness, community violence exposure positively predicted a range of negative psychological outcomes, consistent with a protective-stabilizing effect. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of fostering adaptive levels of school connectedness for youth in high-risk communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-399
Number of pages12
JournalSchool Mental Health
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • African-American male adolescents
  • Aggression
  • Community violence exposure
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • School belongingness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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