Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 1513–1526 | Cite as

Testing Pathways Linking Exposure to Community Violence and Sexual Behaviors Among African American Youth

  • Dexter R. Voisin
  • Anna L. Hotton
  • Torsten B. Neilands
Empirical Research


Exposure to community violence and HIV sexual risks are two major public health concerns among youth. This study tests various pathways linking exposure to community violence and sexual behaviors among African American adolescents. Using a sample of 563 (61 % females) African American youth attending high school we examined whether problematic psychological symptoms, low school engagement, and/or negative perceptions of peer norms about safer sex functioned as pathways linking exposure to community violence and sexual behaviors. Major findings indicated that, for boys, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual début and sexual risk behaviors were linked by aggression. In addition, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual risk behaviors were linked by negative perceptions of peer attitudes about safer sex. For girls, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual début was linked by aggression and negative perceptions of peer attitudes about safer sex. These findings provide support for pathways linking exposure to community violence to sexual behaviors.


Youth Exposure to community violence Sexual behaviors HIV risk Pathways 



This research was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, 1RO3 HD049283-01 awarded to Dexter Voisin.

Author contributions

D.V. conceived and designed the study, collected the data and wrote the first manuscript draft; A.H. participated in the data analyses and interpretation and contributed to drafting the manuscript; T.N. participated in the data interpretation and drafting the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dexter R. Voisin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna L. Hotton
    • 3
  • Torsten B. Neilands
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Social Service AdministrationUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.STI/HIV Intervention NetworkChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Division of Infectious DiseasesJohn H. Stroger HospitalChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesSan FranciscoUSA

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