Table of Contents
Urban Studies Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 368047, 11 pages
Research Article

Youth Exposure to Violence in an Urban Setting

1Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Tidewater 2301, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
2Department of Family Medicine, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, 1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Unit 22, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA
3Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA

Received 10 June 2014; Revised 3 October 2014; Accepted 15 October 2014; Published 10 November 2014

Academic Editor: Enda Murphy

Copyright © 2014 David Seal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To inform a city-wide youth Violence Prevention Initiative, we explored youth narratives about their exposure to violence to gain insight into their understanding of the causes and effects of violence in their communities. At-risk youth were recruited through street outreach for individual interviews and focus group sessions. Types of experiential violence identified included (1) street, (2) family/interpersonal, (3) school, (4) indirect exposure (e.g., neighborhood crime), and (5) prejudice/discrimination. Reactions ranged from motivating positive effects (resilience, determination to escape) to negative effects (fear, paranoia, and aggression). For some, experiences with violence motivated them to pursue educational achievement and positive lifestyles. Causes of violence were described by participants as existing at a number of different levels (societal, neighborhood, interpersonal, and individual), reflecting a social-ecological perspective. Our findings highlight a need for violence prevention efforts that focus on a broad definition of violence, as well as on the poly-victimization of children and youth. At the same time, our findings highlight the challenges of conducting effective community-based prevention programs in urban settings characterized by spatial inequalities and social exclusion of community residents.