College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Winter 3-21-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kathryn E. Grant, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Karen S. Budd, Ph.D.


The current study addresses a paradox in the literature wherein the coping strategies seeming to be most effective for predominantly Caucasian, middle-class, adult samples, sometimes have the opposite effect on low income urban youth. In doing so, exposure to violence is investigated as a moderator of the association between active, behavioral avoidance and cognitive avoidance and internalizing and externalizing outcomes over the short and long term for low income urban youth. Luthar and colleague’s (2000) protective-reactive, protective-enhancing, and vulnerable-reactive models are theoretical bases for this hypothesis. The findings are that the association between behavioral avoidance and internalizing symptoms was protective, at low levels of violence and detrimental, at high levels over the short term. It argues methodological issues currently need to be addressed to further inform how to most effectively equip low income urban youth with effective copings strategies that will help them with specific stressors in the context of urban poverty.