Exposure to violence in relation to depressive symptoms among male and female adolescent students in Cambodia

Journal Articles
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Purpose: In spite of the apparent increases in family and community violence, research into its effects on adolescent mental health has received limited attention in Cambodia. This study examines the association between exposure to violence and depressive symptoms among adolescents controlling for the effects of several factors in family and school domains.

Methods: We randomly selected 993 male and 950 female students proportionally from 11 junior high schools and high schools in Battembang provincial city. Students were questioned about the violence to which they were subjected and which they witnessed in their family and community. The Asian Adolescent Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptoms.

Results: In this study, 27.9 % of male students and 21.5 % of female students had been victimized in at least one case of family violence, while 18.0 % of male and 5.8 % of female students had been victimized in at least one case of community violence. After adjustment, increased levels of depressive symptoms were significantly associated with being the victim of or witnessing family or community violence among both male and female students. However, the positive association between the levels of depressive symptoms and being a witness to community violence was found only in female students.

Conclusions: Efforts to prevent depression in adolescent students should focus on reducing family and community violence; such efforts should also consider gender differences.

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