Current Psychology

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 28–45 | Cite as

“Approach” and “avoidance” coping and PTSD symptoms in innercity youth

  • Margaret DempseyEmail author
  • Stacy Overstreet 
  • Barbara Moely


This study examined the function of approach and avoidant coping on the relations between exposure to violence and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The sample included seventy African-American, inner-city children (ages eleven to fourteen). Tests of moderating effects investigated the mechanism of two avoidant coping strategies, cognitive distraction and behavioral avoidance. Cognitive distraction was found to moderate the level of violence exposure such that, as violence increased, the use of cognitive distraction was related to an increased frequency of cognitive arousal. Behavioral avoidance moderated violence such that, under higher exposure to violence, the lowered use of behavioral avoidance was related to an increased frequency of behavioral arousal. Tests of moderating effects examined the function of two approach strategies, problem-solving and social support. Neither strategy showed significant effects. This study provided a first-step in the examination of coping within inner-city children.


Coping Strategy Ptsd Symptom Violence Exposure Current Psychology Avoidant Coping 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Dempsey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stacy Overstreet 
    • 1
  • Barbara Moely
    • 1
  1. 1.Tulane UniversityUSA

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