The relationship between exposure of Palestinian youth to community violence and internalizing and externalizing symptoms: Do gender and social support matter?

Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Becky Leshem, Neil B. Guterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Youth exposure to community violence (ECV) in the Palestinian society is an alarming problem. Yet, there is serious scarcity of research on its mental health consequences. Objectives: The study examined the relationships between youth ECV and internalizing and externalizing symptoms as well as the moderating and mediating effects of gender and support from family and teachers on these relationships. Participants, Setting, and Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among a systematic random sample of 1930 Palestinian junior and senior high school pupils (912 boys, 1018 girls, aged 12–19-year- old), using a self-administered questionnaire. Results: The results revealed that the more Palestinian youth were exposed to community violence (CV) the more they demonstrated internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Palestinian boys who were victims of CV reported higher levels of externalizing symptoms, while girls reported higher levels of internalizing symptoms. Adolescents with higher levels of family support and teacher support reported lower levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms. We have also found that gender can moderate the effects of CV victimization on internalizing symptoms and that family support can mediates the relationship between CV victimization and internalizing symptoms and moderate the relationships between ECV (both victimization and witnessing) and externalizing symptoms. Conclusions: The moderating and mediating effects of gender and social support on the relationship between ECV and mental health consequences are discussed. The implications of the results for future research and for prevention and intervention as well as the strengths and limitations of the study are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104906
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume112
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Exposure to community violence
  • Externalizing symptoms
  • Family support
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Palestinian youth
  • Social support
  • Teacher support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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