First-semester undergraduate lab member, Lazo Dordeski, recently gave a thought-provoking presentation on an article titled Perceived Neighborhood Violence and Crime, Emotion Regulation, and PTSD Symptoms Among Justice-Involved, Urban African-American Adolescent Girls.
The purpose of the study was to examine how perceived neighborhood violence and crime (NVC) and emotion regulation (ER) and their effects on one another influence the participants’ PTSD symptoms over time. Researchers also were interested in how these relationships acted following the participants’ release from detention facilities.
NVC has been linked to poor life outcomes, delinquency, and a variety of internalizing and externalizing issues, and more. It also disproportionately affects African American youth in urban areas, with a subpopulation of justice-involved African-American adolescent girls for which the interaction between NVC and PTSD symptoms appears to be particularly strong. Dysfunctional ER strategies are linked to the development of many issues related to justice-involved AA youth and may elevate the adverse impact of an individual’s environment.
The sample was made up of 85 female participants aged 13-17 years old. The researchers surveyed Perceived Neighborhood Violence and Crime, measures of ER, PTSD symptoms, and their history with trauma/adverse experience immediately after their release and again three months later. Results for main and interaction effects indicated that perceived NVC and dysfunctional ER were positively associated with PTSD symptoms post-release. The participants who reported high levels of perceived NVC reported more severe PTSD symptoms when engaging in more internal dysfunctional ER strategies. This result specifically suggests the need for interventions targeted towards female adolescents reporting high levels of NVC and internal dysfunctional ER, because they may be more vulnerable to developing PTSD.
Lazo made some very insightful conclusions from his literature review and understanding of the justice system. He highlighted the need for interventions and research to take a community perspective approach because of the strong influence perceived NVC appears to have on PTSD symptoms post-release. Community interventions could protect vulnerable justice-involved adolescents once they come back to their neighborhoods. Another significant point Lazo made was the push for more intersectionality in research on these topics, to help generalize results and broaden the reach of interventions to vulnerable populations. Great work, Lazo!