, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 334-341
Date: 09 Sep 2008

Violence Exposure and PTSD: The Role of English Language Fluency in Latino Youth

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Although Latinos have been a rapidly growing population in the US, little is known about how mental health symptoms may present in Latino children especially in the context of those living in poverty and exposed to violence. We explored the level of violence exposure and trauma symptoms in Latino youth and the relationship of these factors with English language fluency. During 2000–2002, 1,601, Latino students from seven middle schools participated in a school-based screening to identify students with exposure to community violence and symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The students completed a self-report instrument, in either Spanish or English, that combined a modified version of the Life Events Scale and the Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS). Bivariate analyses and multivariate regression models showed that youth with higher English language fluency reported greater violence exposure and PTSD symptoms than those with lower fluency. No difference was found in functioning by English language fluency. English language fluency appears to be related to violence exposure and PTSD symptoms in these Latino youth. We discuss the importance of school-based programs especially designed to serve Latino students of varying English language fluency.