SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • community violence;
  • mental health;
  • urban

Urban adolescents are exposed to a substantial amount of community violence which has the potential to influence psychological functioning. To examine the relationship between community violence exposure and mental health symptoms in urban adolescents, a literature review using MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, CSA Social Services and CSA Sociological Abstracts was conducted. Search terms included adolescent/adolescence, violence, urban, mental health, well-being, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and aggression. Twenty-six empirical research articles from 1997 to 2007 met inclusion criteria for review. Findings indicate an influence of community violence exposure on mental health symptoms, particularly posttraumatic stress and aggression. Mediators and moderators for community violence exposure and mental health symptoms help explain relationships. Limitations in the literature are the lack of consistency in measurement and analysis of community violence exposure, including assessment of proximity and time frame of exposure, and in analysis of victimization and witnessing of community violence. Knowledge about identification of urban adolescents exposed to chronic community violence and who experience mental health symptoms is critical to mental health nursing practice and research.