Help-Seeking and Internal Obstacles to Receiving Support in the Wake of Community Violence Exposure: The Case of Arab and Jewish Adolescents in Israel

Neil B. Guterman, Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Vanessa Vorhies, Leyla Ismayilova, Becky Leshem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined help-seeking and internal obstacles to receiving psychosocial support in the wake of community violence exposure in a sample of 1,835 Arab and Jewish adolescents living in Israel. Paper and pencil surveys conducted in schools examined adolescents' personal victimization and witnessing of community violence in the past year, and then queried adolescents about their help-seeking after violence exposure. Our findings indicated widespread exposure to community violence, particularly for the Arab respondents. Only one in three Arab and one in four Jewish adolescents reported seeking help from anyone to cope with such experiences following their violence exposure, and only rarely did adolescents seek help from a mental health professional (one in twenty for Jewish and one in nine for Arab adolescents). Adolescents across both samples indicated a variety of internal obstacles that might explain their lack of seeking help to cope with violence exposure, including cognitive minimization of the event, deliberately maintaining the secrecy of the event, wishing to maintain their autonomy, and failing to believe in the efficacy of seeking help from others. Such findings shed light on the difficult challenges to providing professional support to adolescents when they are exposed to community violence, and suggest that such challenges, while varying to a degree across cultures, are also prevalent across cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-696
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Community violence
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental health sequelae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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