Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Witnessing gun violence increases likelihood that a child will also commit violent crime

31.05.2005


Violence may be viewed as infectious disease

In a study designed to isolate the root causes of violent behavior, Harvard Medical School researchers found that young teens who witnessed gun violence were more than twice as likely as non-witnesses to commit violent crime themselves in the following years. The study will appear in the May 27 issue of Science.

"Based on this study’s results, showing the importance of personal contact with violence, the best model for violence may be that of a socially infectious disease," says Felton Earls, MD, HMS professor of social medicine and principal investigator of the study and of the the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. "Preventing one violent crime may prevent a downstream cascade of ’infections’. And the lessons learned in Chicago should be broadly applicable. Generalizing this to any large city should be valid," Earls said.



The study, a five-year project that included interviews of over 1,500 children and teenagers from 78 Chicago neighborhoods, used statistical advances and extremely detailed information about the study subjects to go beyond the correlations and associations typically used by social scientists to determine violent behavior. "We have a broad range of factors, and a long course of study, so we can tease out the causal mechanisms," said first author Jeffrey Bingenheimer, currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan who will be joining the Harvard School of Public Health in September as Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar.

Previous work has shown that a large network of factors pushes or pulls young people away from or into violent crime. Researchers suspected that exposure to violence in the community played a role, but many argued that a common factor, perhaps in family structure or personality, might be the common cause of both exposure to violence and later acts of violence. Demonstrating cause and effect with a controlled experiment, deliberately exposing some children to mayhem, would be ethically impossible. But by grouping together and comparing teens with similar likelihood of exposure, some of whom were and some of whom were not actually witnesses to violence, the researchers were able to isolate the independent contribution made by seeing gun violence. And it turned out to be large, swamping other single factors like poverty, drug use, or being raised by a single parent.

The researchers studied the subject teens at three points in their adolescence. Initially they and their caregivers were intensively interviewed and data was collected about their families, personalities, neighborhoods, school performance, and many other factors; this allowed the researchers to group the teens by their propensity to witness gun violence. Two years later, the subjects were interviewed to see which of them had actually seen someone being shot, or shot at. Finally, almost three years further on, they were interviewed again to determine who had participated in gang violence or other violent actions.

After finding that witnessing violence more than doubled the risk that teens would violently offend, the team looked at their statistics to check whether an unknown factor could be hiding from them. They found that something significant would have to be at work to change the findings substantially, and it would have to be uncorrelated with the factors they did examine. "And honestly, it’s very difficult to think what we might have left out," Earls said, pointing to the 153 variables that were embraced in the study.

There is no shortage of medical ways to view urban violence, but the challenge for social medicine researchers is to choose the best one - is violence a product of families, akin to a hereditary disorder? Or is violence like an environmental contaminant, lurking in some communities and leaving others unscathed? Based this study’s results, showing the importance of personal contact with violence, Earls feels the best model may be an socially contagious disease.

Leah Gourley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hms.harvard.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>