268693 Gangs, Guns and Pills: How youth perceive their community in East Baltimore (WAVE)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Beth Marshall, DrPH , Population Family and Reporductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Kristin N. Mmari, DrPH, MA , Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Freya Sonenstein, PhD , Center for Adolescent Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The Well-being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments is a six-city global study of young people in vulnerable environments with the goal of discovering ways to connect youth to health. The six study sites are Baltimore, Johannesburg, South , Shanghai, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and Ibadan. Researchers in each site used qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews, photovoice, community mapping, and focus groups, to collect data from 15 – 19 year olds on how young people view their communities, the health issues they see, and the services and opportunities that exist in their communities.

In Baltimore, findings revealed that youth perceive health to be directly related to their physical and social environments. The physical environment was described as a place in which abandoned buildings, dirt, trash , and rats were the norm. Many youth felt that there were virtually no safe spaces and that violence was something that “you just had to get used to.” The social environment was described primarily as a place where youth have to act on their own, where the parents are often absent, and where other adults and providers are usually not trusted. Females commented on the lack of opportunities they face, and the general lack of support they have for taking care of their own children.

The research points to importance of understanding community level structural and social characteristics in relation to the primary health risks faced by youth in vulnerable environments.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. To describe the relationship between young people’s perceptions of their community and health; 2. To compare the perceptions of health and community among youth living in vulnerable environments across four global sites; 3. To suggest policy and programmatic implications of the findings of this study.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been co-ivestigator of multiple projects focused on the health and well-being of young people living in vulnerable enviroments focusing on both school environments and out of school environments.
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.