Development and Psychopathology

Regular Articles

Community violence: A meta-analysis on the effect of exposure and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents

Patrick J. Fowlera1 c1, Carolyn J. Tompsetta1, Jordan M. Braciszewskia1, Angela J. Jacques-Tiuraa1 and Boris B. Baltesa1

a1 Wayne State University


Meta-analytic techniques were used to estimate the effects of exposure to community violence on mental health outcomes across 114 studies. Community violence had its strongest effects on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and externalizing problems and smallest impact on other internalizing symptoms. Victimization by community violence most predicted symptomatology compared to witnessing or hearing about community violence. Witnessing community violence had a greater effect than hearing about violence on externalizing problems, but both types of exposure had an equal impact on other internalizing problems. PTSD symptoms were equally predicted by victimization, witnessing, or hearing about community violence. Compared to children, adolescents reported a stronger relationship between externalizing behaviors and exposure, whereas children exhibited greater internalizing problems than did adolescents.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Patrick J. Fowler, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Maccabees Building, 7th Floor, 5057 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201; E-mail: