Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Coping with trauma: Urban adolescents and community violence

Alisa S Beaver, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Adolescents exposed to violence and life threat often experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One would think that adolescent males are exposed to more violence and therefore would demonstrate higher rates of PTSD, however, higher rates of PTSD and distress symptoms have been found in females. Rates of exposure, psychological factors and cognitive style may mediate the experience of violence in children and adolescents. Attention to these variables might help to clarify whether there is a difference across sex in the experience of PTSD. This study examined a sample of male and female adolescents who reported exposure to community violence, in order to determine whether the males in the sample report more exposure to violence and less PTSD symptomatology, and to explore the contribution of coping strategies, cognitive developmental style, and type of victimization to differential experience of PTSD symptoms. Results indicate that male adolescents may not experience greater exposure to violence, and they meet criteria for PTSD less often than female adolescents. Differences across sex in coping strategies appear to be related to this phenomenon. The data failed to support the idea that differential experience of sexual victimization across sex is related to the difference in PTSD diagnostic status; however, this area deserves further study. Support for a relationship between cognitive style and sex as a factor in differential experience of PTSD was neither supported nor invalidated. Initial data indicate a range of cognitive styles. more sophisticated research regarding trauma recovery process is required to further explore these phenomena.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences|Personality|Developmental psychology|Social psychology|Welfare

Recommended Citation

Beaver, Alisa S, "Coping with trauma: Urban adolescents and community violence" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9920583.