Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mary Lou Kelley


Increased interest in how violence exposure might relate to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other adolescent psychopathology has created considerable demand for an assessment tool to assist in this research effort. Though attempts have been made to improve the measurement standards for violence research on youth, available instruments lack adequate psychometric qualities, comprehensiveness, or an acceptable format for slow readers. The present study provided empirical evidence on the utility of the Screen for Adolescent Violence Exposure (SAVE), an instrument designed to both correct the deficiencies of previous measures and to assess violence exposure for school, home, and neighborhood settings. The SAVE was developed on 1250 inner-city adolescents and obtained excellent reliability coefficients. Factor structure, examined by both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, identified three factors: Traumatic Violence, Indirect Violence, and Interpersonal Aggression. The SAVE demonstrated utility in classifying high- and low-violence participants, and was significantly correlated with both objective crime data and theoretically relevant constructs (anger, PTSD symptoms, and internalizing/externalizing problems). The scale also yielded expected empirical results in a representative application: youth scoring high on traumatic violence reported significantly more PTSD symptoms, dissociation, anger, and internalizing and externalizing problems. Thus the SAVE shows promise as a more precise measurement of the stressor criterion associated with PTSD in adolescents, and allows quantification of severity of violence exposure by setting.