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Article
February 1999

Exposure to Drug Trafficking Among Urban, Low-Income African American Children and Adolescents

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Minority Health Research, University of Maryland at Baltimore (Drs Li and Stanton); and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine (Drs Li, Stanton, and Feigelman), Baltimore.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153(2):161-168. doi:10.1001/archpedi.153.2.161
Abstract

Objective  To examine the association between exposure to drug trafficking (selling or delivering drugs) and exposure to other forms of community violence and risk behaviors among urban, low-income African American children and adolescents.

Design  Community-based, cross-sectional survey.

Setting  Ten public housing developments in a large eastern city in the United States.

Participants  Three hundred forty-nine urban, low-income African American children and adolescents (198 boys and 151 girls), aged 9 to 15 years.

Main Outcome Measures  Exposure to drug trafficking and other forms of community violence (as either a victim or a witness), risk behaviors/perceptions including risk-taking/delinquency, drug use, perpetration of violence or other crimes, threats to school achievement, and perceived peer involvement.

Analysis  Exploratory factor analysis was performed to examine whether exposure to drug trafficking is a risk factor that is distinct from other exposure to violence. Multivariate analysis of variance and χ2 tests were performed to assess the relationship between exposure to drug trafficking and other forms of community violence and risk behaviors/perceptions.

Results  Of 349 participants, 63 (18%) had been asked to traffic drugs and 134 (38%) had seen someone else being asked to traffic drugs. Factor analysis indicates that exposure to drug trafficking appears to be different from other forms of community violence. However, having been asked and having seen other people being asked to traffic drugs were both strongly associated with exposure to other forms of community violence. Compared with children and adolescents who had not been exposed to drug trafficking, those who were exposed to drug trafficking reported more risk-taking and delinquent behaviors, drug use, threats to achievement, and a perception of more peer involvement in these risk behaviors.

Conclusion  Exposure to drug trafficking is a unique risk factor that is strongly associated with exposure to other forms of community violence and involvement in other risk behaviors.

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