The Relationships between Exposure to Community Violence and the Development of Psychopathology in Treatment-Seeking Adolescents in a Trauma Clinic in the Western Cape
Ngidi, Wendy Thabisile
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The main aim of the current study is to examine the relationship between community violence exposure and the development of psychopathology and examine the relationship between community violence exposure and other types of trauma, that is, childhood trauma and stressful life events. It was hypothesised that exposure to community violence will have a high correlation with development of psychological disorders such as mood and anxiety and psychotic disorders. The main study employed a quantitative research design in order to determine the relationship between PTSD in children and adolescents. The current study used secondary data to measure the correlation between exposure to community violence and the development of psychopathology. The data for this study was collected from 132 consecutive referrals between the ages of 13 to 19 (mean age = 15.4, SD = 1.6) from a youth stress clinic at a university in the Western Cape. Findings indicated that community violence prevalence was higher than previous South African studies but lower compared to American studies. There was generally a high prevalence of PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD) in this sample compared to previous South African studies. An unexpected outcome was that even though there was a high prevalence of PTSD, there was no relationship between community violence exposure and PTSD in this sample, rather, community violence exposure was related to MDD. Furthermore, MDD and not PTSD was related to experiences of childhood trauma. Stressful life events were related to acute stress disorder (ASD).