The Effect of Low Perceived Life Chances on Odds of Adolescent Participation in Fighting, Stabbing, and Shooting
March, Alice L.
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(41st Biennial Convention) Background: Adolescent participation in violent behaviors increases the likelihood of premature death. Minority youth have high rates of fighting, stabbing and shooting, yet substantially more research has been completed in majority populations. Multiple factors influence the odds of involvement, yet theory-based research has not fully examined how risk or promotive factors alter behaviors. This study employed the problem behavior theory to examine psychosocial risk and protective factors in impoverished African American adolescents. The purpose of the study was to discover the relationships between risk and protective factors, and behaviors related to violence, in particular the risk factor of low perceived life chances. � Methods: This secondary data analysis of a survey assessing multiple behaviors and psychosocial variables examined responses to selected questions representing constructs within the theory thought to be affected by violence, and protective and risk factors (low perceived life chances). Multiple regression analyses examined the independent effect of low perceived life chances on participation in those behaviors. Results: Respondents were impoverished (88.7% received free/reduced cost lunch) African American (96%) adolescent. Low perceived life chances increased the odds of fighting (?=.459, p=.009), stabbing (?=18.481, p<.0001), and shooting (?=.985, p<.0001). Not knowing neighbors increased the odds of fighting (?=.631, p<.0001) and shooting (?=.418, p=.048). Low self-esteem increased the odds of stabbing (?=.707, p=.003) and shooting (?=.619, p=.016). Factors decreasing the odds included: religiosity (? =-.044, p=.022), interested adults (?=-.770, p=.002) for stabbing; female sex for fighting (?=-.612, p<.0001) and shooting (?=-1.899, p<.0001); and liking the neighborhood for fighting (?=-.329, p=.046). Conclusion: Low perceived life chances in adolescents from impoverished neighborhoods may increase the risk of involvement in violence; however other factors may modify those effects. Implications: Discovering what factors affect risky behaviors is the first step in creating culturally appropriate community interventions to decrease those behaviors.