Psychological Intervention and Prevention Programs for Child and Adolescent Exposure to Community Violence: A Systematic Review

Neveen Ali-Saleh Darawshy, Abigail Gewirtz, Scott Marsalis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to systematically review the existing literature regarding intervention and prevention programs that ameliorate the negative effects of exposure to community violence (ECV) on children and adolescents. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review (PRISMA) Guidelines, we conducted a systematic review of the literature aimed at providing a synthesis of the extant Randomized Control Trials (RCT) and peer-reviewed empirical literature on intervention and prevention programs for those affected by ECV. Nine randomized controlled trials were identified: seven studies with elementary school students in the USA, one study with elementary school students in Colombia, and one study with middle school students in the USA. Most trials compared intervention and no-treatment control groups; three studies compared active interventions. The intervention and prevention trials conducted in school settings in the USA showed most impact on reducing internalizing and PTSD symptoms. The evidence base of intervention and prevention programs for child and adolescent exposure to community violence is very limited. This systematic review synthesizes extant evidence of the effectiveness of intervention programs in reducing internalizing and externalizing symptoms, PTSD, exposure to community violence, and in enhancing academic performance. More studies are needed to provide a better understanding of how interventions might ameliorate the adverse consequences of exposure to community violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-378
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by a Haruv-Israel Institute post-doctoral fellowship to the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Children and Adolescents
  • Community violence
  • Experiencing violence
  • Prevention and intervention
  • Victim
  • Witnessing violence


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