Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Exposure to community violence has disabling effects on the mental health of youth in the US, with high rates of exposure for African American adolescents from underserved, urban communities. Past literature suggests that avoidant coping, specifically behavioral avoidance, may be most useful for youth exposed to uncontrollable stress. The current study assessed the utility of coping strategies in reducing aggression and delinquency in 267 sixth through eighth grade African American youth. First, confirmatory factor analyses revealed a three-factor structure of coping: cognitive approach, behavioral approach, and avoidance. Next, moderated moderation findings showed that for boys, avoidance and approach strategies increased risk for delinquency and aggression. For girls, high use of avoidance was protective, but low use of avoidance and approach was harmful. These results suggest that in general, more coping is helpful for girls but unhelpful for boys. This research enhances understanding of how youth adaptively cope with community violence.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.