208686 Role of family for youth in violent environments

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Douglas Wiebe, PhD , Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Catherine McDonald, PhD(c), RN , School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Terry Guerra , Achieveability, Philadelphia, PA
Nicole A. Thomas, MBA , Philadelphia Area Research Community Coalition, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Therese Richmond, PhD, CRNP, FAAN , School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Background: High violence levels in Philadelphia affect youth and pose substantial challenges for healthy development.

Purpose: Test the hypothesis that healthy family functioning serves to enhance youth's self-esteem and to decrease the use of confrontational coping in neighborhoods with prevalent community violence.

Methods: A paper and pen survey was administered to 110 youth (10-16 yrs; 54% female) recruited from community settings and recreation centers in three Philadelphia communities. Standardized questions assessed participants' community violence exposure (CVE), family functioning, peer self-esteem, school self-esteem, and use of confrontational coping. Data were analyzed using multinomial least-squares regression.

Results: Over 97% of youth reported some type of CVE, with 35% reporting disproportionately high CVE, and 52% of youth reported healthy family functioning. Controlling for age, gender, and CVE, healthier family functioning was associated with significantly (p<0.05) higher levels of school and peer self-esteem and decreased use of confrontational coping. Using the regression model to derive mean predicted values among subgroup of our sample, youth with healthy family function had significantly higher levels of peer self-esteem than did youth with unhealthy family function (3.4 vs. 2.9 respectively, p<0.05), and significantly higher levels of school self-esteem as well (3.5 vs. 2.8 respectively, p<0.05). Youth from homes with healthy family functioning relied less often on confrontational coping (0.8 vs. 1.5, p<0.05).

Conclusions: The role of the family can be a protective factor in environments of pervasive community violence. Findings suggest that in preventing youth violence and augmenting healthy development, the family can be a point of intervention.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the importance of healthy family functioning on the develop of youth growing up in violence communities.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a researcher with community violence as an area of expertise.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.