Witnessing Community Violence and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Detained Adolescents

Dexter R. Voisin, Laura F. Salazar, Richard Crosby, Ralph J. DiClemente, William L. Yarber, Michelle Staples-Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This study examines whether witnessing community violence, in the 12 months prior to juvenile detention, is related and health-related outcomes in the 2 months prior to being detained among 550 youth. Participants answered survey questions using audio-computer assisted self-interviewing procedures, which assessed demographic, problem, and drug and sexual risk behaviors. Multiple logistic regression analyses, controlling for significant covariates, indicated that adolescents, in the last 12 months, who reported witnessing community violence, relative to their peer witnessing no violence, were in the last 2 months prior to being detained, twice more likely to have suicidal threats, 2 times more likely to use marijuana and alcohol, 2 times more likely to get high on alcohol or other drugs during sexual intercourse, and 2 times more likely to have sex with a partner who was high on alcohol or other drugs. Finding suggest that detained youth, many of whom may not access traditional helath care, should be offered prevention and intervention services dring detention, which provides a critical window of opportunity for needed services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-513
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • adolescents
  • community violence
  • drug use
  • sexual-risks
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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