Community Violence and Urban Families: Experiences, Effects, and Directions for Intervention


Bradley Hospital, 1011 Veterans Memorial Parkway, East Providence, RI 02915. E-mail:


The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of community-level stressors (particularly violence), coping strategies, and resources to prevent exposure to violence or to mitigate its effects in an inner-city community. Parents and children participated in focus groups, and children also completed standardized instruments. In the focus groups, parents and children identified several areas of concern related to “helpers,” schools, community safety, and emotional distress. They identified protective resources including intensive monitoring and social supports. Fifty percent of the children met criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and another 21% met criteria for partial PTSD. The mental health issues in children living with ongoing community violence necessitate that researchers use a qualitative approach to inform future interventions.