Exposure to violence and psychosocial adjustment among urban school-aged children

Oscar H. Purugganan, Ruth E.K. Stein, Ellen Johnson Silver, Blanche S. Benenson

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15 Scopus citations


This study determines the relationship between psychosocial adjustment in school-aged children and one aspect of exposure to violence, the proximity of exposure, in terms of (1) "physical" proximity and (2) "emotional" proximity to the victims of violence. A convenience sample of 175 children aged 9 to 12 years from a primary care clinic of a large urban hospital were interviewed about their exposure to violence using the Children's Report of Exposure to Violence. Psychosocial adjustment was measured through maternal reports using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Personal Adjustment and Role Skills Scale (PARS III). Children were categorized into three groups according to their closest proximity to exposure to violence ("victim" > "witness" > exposure through other people's "report") and two groups according to emotional proximity (victim was a "familiar person" or "stranger"). All children (23/175) who scored above the CBCL clinical cutoff (T score > 63) were witnesses or victims of violence. The CBCL total T scores (higher score = more maladjustment) showed that the "victims" group (mean 52.4) scored significantly higher than the "witness" group (mean 50.0) and "report" group (mean 47.4). The PARS III total scores (lower scores = more maladjustment) showed that the "victims" group (mean 87.5) scored significantly lower than the "witness" group (mean 93.1 and "report" group (mean 98.2). The relationship of the child to the victim was not associated with significantly different CBCL and PARS III scores. Children exposed to more proximal forms of violence as victims or witnesses exhibited more psychosocial maladjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Exposure to violence
  • Psychosocial adjustment
  • School-aged children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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