This executive summary reports on a study that used data from the 1995 National Survey of Adolescents (NSA) to examine the consequences of exposure to violence on adolescents.
The two main research objectives were, first, replicate and extend the original analysis of the NSA and, second, to examine the context and consequences of school violence. Data for the NSA were derived from a national probability sample of 4,023 juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17. Respondents were asked about their experiences with several forms of victimization, other forms of exposure to stressful life events, their assessment of peer and family deviance, their own delinquent activities, and several indicators of drug and alcohol abuse. The initial analysis of the NSA examined the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug abuse or dependence. The original analysis found that one of the strongest predictors of drug abuse was witnessing violence. Results of frequencies, cross-tabular, and logistic regression analysis of NSA data revealed important differences between the original analysis and the current findings. Controls for income, peer deviance, and location of witnessed violence eliminated the significance of PTSD on drug abuse. Furthermore, when the location of the witnessed violence was controlled, exposure to violence was only a predictor of marijuana use. As for the second research objective of examining the context and consequences of school violence on adolescents, the analysis revealed that witnessing violence in school was a risk factor for engaging in serious forms of delinquency and for believing that violence was a serious problem in schools and communities. However, witnessing violence at school, or any other location, was found to increase the risk of using marijuana, but not other drugs or alcohol. As such, witnessing violence does increase the general risk for drug and alcohol behaviors but no particular location for witnessing violence generates a larger risk than others. Tables, references
Date Published: August 1, 2003