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School Violence, Adjustment, and the Influence of Hope on Low-Income, African American Youth


concerning this article should be addressed to Linda A. Cedeno, Department of Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8040. Electronic mail may be sent to


The current study investigated the prevalence and impact of exposure to school violence using a cross-sectional design with a sample of 132 low-income, African American fifth graders (mean age = 10.20). Additionally, hope was examined in relation to adjustment and as a potential resilience factor in the context of school violence. Students completed self-report measures for exposure to school violence frequencies, self-concept, and hope. Teachers completed a teacher-rated survey assessing levels of problem behaviors, social skills, and academic competence. Results indicated that the majority of youth had been personally victimized or witnessed violence during a 3-month period. Exposure to school violence was positively associated with problem behaviors, and negatively associated with social skills, self-concept, and academic competence; hope was inversely related to externalizing behaviors and positively related to self-concept. Hope buffered the effects of personal victimization and witnessing violence on self-concept. Gender differences were observed for a number of the analyses. The implications of both the prevalence and impact of exposure to school violence, as well as the moderating effects of hope, are discussed.