COLUMBUS, Ohio More than three-quarters of young violent offenders interviewed in two poverty-stricken New York City neighborhoods had seen someone die in a violent incident, a new study reveals.
About half of them (51 percent) had been shot themselves and 78 percent said they had a close friend who died in a violent attack.
The results show how lifelong exposure to violence may lead some inner-city youth to accept violence as a normal way to deal with some problems, said Deanna Wilkinson, principal investigator of the federally-funded study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
"The study really uncovers how much trauma these young men have experienced in their past," Wilkinson said.
For comparison, a 1991 study of 4,200 U.S Army soldiers who fought on the front lines of the Gulf War found that 73 percent had seen someone killed or seriously wounded in combat.
"Many of these youth describe their neighborhoods as being like a war zone, and it is easy to see why," she said.
Homicide has been the leading cause of death for African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 for the past thirty years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanic males between the ages of 15 and 34.
Patrick Carr, a sociologist at Rutgers University, is co-author of the study. Their results appear in the current issue of the Journal of Community Psychology, which focuses on youth violence.
The article was based on data from The New York City Youth Violence Study, which Wilkinson helped lead. The unique study involved interviews with 416 active violent offenders aged 16 to 24 from two disadvantaged and high-crime New York City neighborhoods over the course of nearly three years (1995-1998). The study focused on how youth made decisions in potentially violent situations.
Analysis of the
|Contact: Deanna Wilkinson|
Ohio State University