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Although community violence exposure (CVE) confers risk for generalized anxiety symptoms, not all youth who are exposed to violence exhibit such symptoms, suggesting that other factors moderate this relation. One candidate for moderation is executive functioning (EF), which is linked to both CVE and generalized anxiety symptoms. Nevertheless, little research has examined whether EF moderates the CVE-anxiety relation. To address this gap, we examined associations among CVE (i.e., direct victimization and witnessed violence), EF abilities (i.e., emotional control and shifting), and parent- and child-reported generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms among low income, urban youth (N = 104, 50 % male, M = 9.93 ± 1.22 years). In terms of main effects, lower levels of emotional control were associated with increased parent-reported GAD symptoms, whereas lower levels of shifting abilities were associated with increased parent- and child-reported GAD symptoms across both subtypes of CVE. EF abilities moderated the relation between direct victimization and both parent- and child-reported GAD symptoms, but did not moderate the relation between witnessed violence and GAD symptoms. Post-hoc probing indicated that when youth were exposed to higher levels of direct victimization, those with lower EF abilities exhibited elevated GAD symptoms. However, the level of direct victimization did not impact the level of GAD symptoms among youth with higher EF abilities. Findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs among at-risk youth who are exposed to community violence.
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- Community Violence Exposure and Generalized Anxiety Symptoms: Does Executive Functioning Serve a Moderating Role Among Low Income, Urban Youth?
Darcy E. Burgers
Deborah A. G. Drabick
- Springer US