What Happens After School? Linking Latino Adolescents Activities and Community Violence Exposure

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Although community violence and the associated deleterious behavioral and psychological consequences that follow violence exposure for youth persist as serious; ongoing public health concerns; surprisingly little research has examined precursors to adolescents' violence exposure. This longitudinal study investigates adolescents' participation in three types of activities; specifically including home-; school-; and community-based after-school activities and examines which of these activities place youth at greater risk for experiencing community violence. The sample consists of 398 Latino high school students (53% female) with a mean age of 15.5 years (SD = 1.0) and with 85% qualifying for free and reduced school lunch. Cross-sectional results demonstrated that frequency of non-structured community-based activities and part-time work were associated with higher rates of witnessing and being victimized by violence. Adolescents' endorsement of the Latino cultural value of familismo; on the other hand; was associated with lower rates of personal victimization. Longitudinal findings showed that only frequency of non-structured community-based activities was related to greater victimization and witnessing violence one year later. Our findings underscore the importance of providing structured; well supervised after-school activities for low-income youth in high-risk neighborhoods.