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NCJ Number: 205648 Find in a Library
Title: Violence of Adolescent Life: Experiencing and Managing Everyday Threats
Journal: Youth & Society  Volume:35  Issue:4  Dated:June 2004  Pages:452-479
Author(s): Katherine Irwin
Date Published: June 2004
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Publisher: http://www.sagepub.com/ejournals 
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the threats and experiences of violence among a sample of 43 adolescents who lived in Denver, CO, from 1994 to 1996, which was the 2-year period following the peak of the youth-violence epidemic.
Abstract: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with the 42 adolescents (ages 10-20) and with 42 of their parents for the purposes of soliciting individuals' perceptions of the role of neighborhood, family, peers, and school in adolescent development. The original design of the study was to examine the way that neighborhood contexts (the youth were from five Denver neighborhoods) influenced adolescents' transition into adulthood. The five neighborhoods represented in the study varied in measures of disadvantage. Measures were used to indicate the ability of neighborhoods to control criminal, delinquent, and problem behavior. Two of the neighborhoods represented advantaged neighborhoods (low resident turnover, single-parent household, poverty, and heterogeneity rates). Once tape-recorded interviews were transcribed, researchers coded the interviews for common themes. Individuals described being victims and perpetrators of violence. In addition, a number of youths described having witnessed violence. Thus, the study refers to violence experiences as perpetration, victimization, and witnessing violence. The 42 parent interviews were analyzed to provide more information about the adolescents' family and neighborhood contexts. The most common forms of violence mentioned were fist-fights, fights or threats with weapons (guns, knives, or bats), and drive-by shootings. Most of the youths interviewed feared these sorts of conflicts. Although the fear of violence was pervasive among all the adolescents in the sample, they had vastly different experiences of violence. Some reported being exposed to violence from local news stories of violence, but they reported very little violence in their own lives. Other adolescents experienced violence regularly and worried that they might be hit, shot, or stabbed while walking in their neighborhoods or spending time with friends at local hangouts. Generally, individuals reported three types of management strategies for dealing with their fear of violence: turning to friends, avoiding places, and avoiding people. Management styles for protection against violence varied among groups according to their risk level for violence. Among adolescents at high risk for becoming victims of violence, the perpetration of violence often became the means of avoiding victimization. Individuals who joined violent groups for protection, however, increased their chances of becoming victims of violence. Responses to increasing threats of violence can produce violence management techniques that leave many youths with few choices but to become violent. When the threat of violence reaches a particular level, the interaction patterns initiated across multiple contexts can increase the number of individuals who are likely to become violent. Thus, the most promising programs for stemming violence rates might be those that specifically target fear-based segregation among groups. This calls for a shift in violence-prevention programming from targeting one group of youths, such as those considered at risk for violence, to targeting a large cross-section of youths. It also calls for a shift in ways of measuring program effectiveness from locating changes within individuals to changes within a larger social system. The ultimate goal of system changes is to open avenues for meaningful participation in legitimate society for excluded youths. 3 notes and 49 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Fear of crime; Gang violence; Victims of violence; Violence; Violence causes; Violence prevention; Violent juvenile offenders
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=205648

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