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Youth's strategies for staying safe and coping


  • All authors are members of the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention program, and this manuscript was supported by the cooperative agreement number 5 U49 CE001093 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research was also supported by Award No. F31NR011107 (PI: Catherine C. McDonald) from the National Institute of Nursing Research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research or the National Institutes of Health.

  • We acknowledge the thoughtful input of Tamara M. Haegerich, Ph.D during the early phases of study design and implementation.


Youth living in urban environments of pervasive violence are exposed to a variety of violence-related stressors. This qualitative descriptive study sought to ascertain how community-dwelling youth perceived exposure to violence and how these youth identified and used available resources. The intent of this community-based participatory research study was to help inform the design of a youth violence prevention center intervention. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 18 youth, aged 10–16 years. Youth reported high levels of exposure to neighborhood violence. A theme of identifying and navigating safe and unsafe places emerged. Other stressors were more proximal and included interpersonal issues and conflicts. Youth used neighborhood and individual resources to cope with stressors. Youth maintained a high level of vigilance and developed clear strategies to safely navigate violent neighborhoods. Implications of the constant vigilance and exquisite sensitivity to stressors of chronic neighborhood violence for youth are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.