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Study: Most young violent offenders in two NYC neighborhoods have seen someone killed
Date:1/13/2009

interviews suggest that these youth and young men have developed internalized "scripts" that help them determine how to respond in dangerous situations.

Most of the participants have seen violence used as a way to work through problems all their lives, and as a result their scripts often include violence as a way of reacting when someone confronts them or shows them disrespect.

"The early exposure to violence teaches them a limited repertoire of what options they have in a particular dangerous setting," she said. "We found in the interviews that kids use violence when they think it is necessary to get through a situation and maintain their respect.

"These youth do not feel safe in their neighborhoods. They do not feel protected by the police or community adults."

The participants in the study were selected from three groups: one group had been convicted and jailed for illegal handgun possession or a violent offense; another group had been in a hospital for injuries resulting from violence; and the third group had been identified as being actively involved in violence during the past six months.

All participants were interviewed for 1 to 2 hours by peer interviewers young men from the same neighborhoods who were recruited and trained by the researchers.

The 416 participants discussed in detail 780 violent events in which they had been involved, and revealed how they psychologically processed these experiences.

For most of those interviewed, guns were a part of life, Wilkinson said.

Thirty percent of those surveyed said they carried a gun every day, and 92 percent reported they were carrying a gun at the time they were interviewed for this study.

Self-protection was one of the main reasons cited for carrying a gun.

"In the interviews, a lot of the kids defined themselves as non-violent, but at the same time they carry guns and they have used guns," Wilkinson said.

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Contact: Deanna Wilkinson
Wilkinson.110@osu.edu
614-247-4004
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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