Chicago, Illinois has a substantially higher rate of violent crime than much of the United States. For many adolescents living in this city, community violence exposure (CVE) is a part of daily life. CVE has been previously linked to both psychosocial problems and risk behaviors. The purpose of this study is to evaluate these risk behaviors further and determine the relationship between community violence exposure (CVE) and sexual risk taking. We also plan to explore the factors that promote susceptibility and resistance to psychosocial problems and risk behaviors in this population.
The proposed research design is a sequential mixed methods study, consisting of qualitative research followed by a quantitative survey, of 15-19-year-old girls. Girls will first be invited to participate in focus group discussions to explore the mechanisms by which CVE leads to sexual risk taking and its implications for teenage pregnancy. We will then administer a cross-sectional survey to determine the strength of the relationships between CVE and sexual risk taking, along with mediators and moderators of this association.