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Power of Developmental Assets in Building Behavioral Adjustment Among Youth Exposed to Community Violence: A Multidisciplinary Longitudinal Study of Resilience, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
25 pages
This research study examined the behavioral functioning of youth exposed to community violence and how developmental assets may promote positive behavioral trajectories and resilience into adulthood among urban youth exposed to community violence.
Researchers and practitioners have repeatedly noted substantial variation in. Several studies across fields have documented the detrimental effects of exposure to violence, while other studies have considered how developmental assets promote positive youth development. However, few have examined the lives of the many youth who demonstrate resilience (that is, positive adjustment despite risk) and hardly any have examined how developmental assets may shape resilient trajectories into adulthood for youth exposed to violence. The authors used generalized estimating equations, a multivariable technique appropriate for longitudinal and clustered data, to examine multilevel longitudinal data from 1,114 youth, ages 11-16, from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN). The authors considered whether baseline family, peer and neighborhood-level protective factors predicted behavioral adjustment 3-7 years later, among youth who were victims of, witnesses of, or unexposed to violence, controlling for individual and neighborhood-level risks. Behavioral adjustment varied across waves and by exposure to violence. In the short-term, being a victim was associated with increased aggression and delinquency. In the long-term, though, both victims and witnesses to violence had higher odds of behavioral adjustment. Family support, friend support and neighborhood support, family boundaries and collective efficacy had protective effects, and family support, positive peers, and meaningful opportunities modified the effect of exposure to violence to increase the odds of behavioral adjustment over time. Policies, systems and programs across sectors that help nurture these specific supports and opportunities can promote positive behavioral trajectories and resilience into adulthood among urban youth exposed to community violence.

Date Published: February 1, 2012