Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 1512–1527 | Cite as

Gender Differences in the Effects of Parental Underestimation of Youths’ Secondary Exposure to Community Violence

Empirical Research


Secondary exposure to community violence is particularly detrimental for male youths, who disproportionately report witnessing community violence and suffering associated trauma-related symptoms. Yet, few studies have investigated whether parents perceive and report similar gender disparities among youths. In addition, few studies have examined the potentially negative effects of parent–child discord as to the youth’s level of exposure to violence, or whether these effects vary across gender. Therefore, this study investigated whether differences between parents’ and youths’ reports of youths’ exposure to violence, and the consequences of such reporting discord, varied across the gender of the youth informant. Participants were adolescents aged approximately 12 and 15 years at baseline (N = 1,517; 51 % female). Descriptive analyses indicated that male youths reported significantly higher levels of exposure to violence than female youths, but parents similarly under-reported their male and female children’s experiences with violence. Hierarchical analyses indicated that parental underestimation of youths’ exposure to violence had negative consequences. Moreover, significant interaction effects demonstrated that only females responded to reporting discord with internalizing problems. Conversely, both male and female youths responded to reporting discord with externalizing problems and offending. The results suggest that while parent–child discord is associated with negative outcomes for both male and female youths, discord may be disproportionately associated with negative outcomes among young females. The findings speak to the utility of examining the correlates and consequences of exposure to violence from a “gendered” perspective.


Coping Crime and delinquency Gender Parent–child relations Resiliency Stress 


Author contribution

G.M.Z conceived of the study, conducted all analyses, participated in the study design, and participated in the drafting of the manuscript. A.S.F participated in the study design and participated in the drafting of the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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