Teenagers’ exposure to community violence in post conflict Northern Ireland

Andrew Percy, Kareena McAloney, Claire McCartan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


As Northern Ireland transitions to a post-conflict society, the nature of community violence and its influence on adolescent development is an important area of research. Adolescents are particularly at risk of victimization and associated social, emotional, and psychological health problems. Using data
from the fifth sweep of the Belfast Youth Development Study (N=3828 young people aged 15-16), this paper examines the extent and nature of young people’s exposure to various forms of community violence. Exposure to violence includes direct knowledge of community violence (e.g. family members beaten up or attacked), witnessing community violence and being the victim of community violence. In addition, it examines the relationship between exposure to community violence and other social and health problems. Knowledge of violent events was particularly prevalent amongst the sample, suggesting that the social and psychological legacy of the ‘‘Troubles’’ may pass onto post-conflict generations. Over three quarters of young people had experienced violence within their community. Exposure was associated with higher levels of depression, psychotic symptoms, and substance misuse. The findings suggest that adolescents in Northern Ireland are vulnerable to both direct and vicarious victimization, and, subsequently, to significant risks to psychological well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • community violence
  • adolescents
  • teenagers
  • children


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