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Community Gun Violence Exposure among Urban Youth: An Overlooked Externality of Endemic Gun Violence in the United States

Bancalari, Pilar

Gun violence is a daily reality for many youth in the United States (U.S). As mass shootings at concerts, schools, and places of worship have incited a national reckoning with the country’s unwavering defense of gun rights over safety legislation, ensuing research has justifiably focused on the direct victims of gun homicides. Yet the public health impact of gun violence goes beyond these heavily publicized mass shootings, with chronic community violence constituting the vast majority of gun violence events. Low-income Black and brown youth are most at risk of secondhand exposure to chronic community gun violence. Despite this persistent and harmful exposure, research into the downstream effects of community gun violence on youth has lagged. This review aimed to assess the state of evidence on indirect exposure to community gun violence among low-income urban youth in the U.S. PubMed, Web of Science (core collection), ProQuest, and SCOPUS were searched for peer-reviewed articles exploring the scope, risk factors, and impacts of community gun violence exposure on this population. The primary findings suggest that exposure to community gun violence is common in certain communities and detrimental to youth development. The broad themes emerging from this review include (1) a lack of consensus regarding the range of experiences that constitute community gun violence, (2) exposure to violence involving a firearm as distinct from that with other weapons, (3) a need to conceptualize multiple dimensions of gun violence exposure, (4) differential impacts of exposure to community gun violence across developmental stages, and (5) how indirect gun violence exposure uniquely contributes to cycles of community violence. Future research should move toward a consistent typology, multidimensional conceptualization, and developmental- and context-specific examination of community gun violence exposure.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Sommer, Marni
Degree
M.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
November 1, 2021