African American adolescents living and coping with community violence on Chicago's Southside

Dexter R. Voisin, Jason D.P. Bird, Melissa Hardestry, Cheng Shiu Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study explores community violence exposures among African American adolescents and whether coping strategies were gendered. In-depth interviews are conducted with a sample of 32 African American high school students. Data are analyzed using a thematic analysis. The primary forms of violence exposures are physical attacks, fighting, and incidents involving police, gun violence, and murders. Boys report more exposure to violence as victims and witnesses, whereas girls are more likely to hear about violent acts. Coping styles range from "getting through," which included both an acceptance of community conditions; "getting along," which included self-defense techniques; "getting away," which included avoidance coping strategies; and "getting back," which consisted of confrontational coping strategies. Boys report more confrontational coping styles than are girls, who utilized more avoidance approaches. Widespread school-based interventions are warranted, given the high prevalence of community violence exposure among these youth and may provide important supports for coping against such trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2483-2498
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • African American
  • adolescents
  • community violence
  • coping
  • gender


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