skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 199941 Find in a Library
Title: Explaining Racial and Ethnic Differences in Adolescent Violence: Structural Disadvantage, Family Well-Being, and Social Capital
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:20  Issue:1  Dated:March 2003  Pages:1-31
Author(s): Thomas L. McNulty; Paul E. Bellair
Date Published: March 2003
Page Count: 31
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article proposes and tests a contextual model of differences in adolescent violence between Whites and five other racial-ethnic groups.
Abstract: The model views differences in adolescent violence between Whites and other racial-ethnic groups as a function of variation in community contexts, family socioeconomic well-being, and the social capital available to adolescents and families. The model was tested with an analysis of data drawn from three waves of the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) and United States zip-code data on local communities. The NELS is a large, nationally representative data set with student, parent, teacher, and principal components. During the first wave in 1988, the survey drew random samples of about 25 eighth graders in each of about 1,000 middle schools. Students were then traced to high school in 1990 (Wave 2) and 1992 (Wave 3), with high follow-up response rates. There were 16,489 respondents with completed questionnaires in the base year and first and second follow-ups. Independent variables that pertained to racial-ethnic background, gender, family income, and family structure were drawn from the first wave of the NELS (1988). Indicators of family social capital were drawn from the students and parent files of the second and third waves. The dependent variable, fighting, was the indicator of adolescent violence. This indicator was derived from two questions in the third wave of the NELS that asked the respondents how many times they had been in a physical fight at or on the way to or from school over the previous half year. Racial-ethnic groups were distinguished as Whites, Asians, American Indians, Blacks, Hispanics, and respondents of "other" backgrounds. Consistent with the proposed model, the White-Black disparity in adolescents' fighting was explained by higher levels of disadvantage in the communities in which Black children often lived. The effect of concentrated disadvantage on fighting was mediated by more proximate processes that were linked to family well-being. Variation in structural disadvantage was apparently less central in the White-Latino difference in fighting, but it was still consequential. The primary explanation was variation in family well-being between Latino and White families, particularly parental education. American Indians were the only group for whom differences relative to Whites were not fully explained. Theoretical and public policy implications of these findings are discussed. 3 tables, 114 references, and appended supplementary information and data
Main Term(s): Violent juvenile offenders
Index Term(s): Black/White Crime Comparisons; Parent-Child Relations; Race-crime relationships; Social conditions; Violence causes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.