Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Measuring the Effect of Exposure to Violence: An Analysis of the Behavioral Health/Juvenile Justice Initiative
by Butcher, Fredrick, Ph.D., Kent State University, 2012, 125; 10630921
Abstract (Summary)

Although rates of violent crime among juveniles had dropped precipitously during the 1990s, juvenile violence remains a significant problem with a large percentage of youth reporting exposure to violence in homes, schools, and neighborhoods. The literature to date consistently shows a relationship between exposure to violence and internalizing and externalizing problems. Recent studies have begun to test the effects of neighborhood disorganization on this relationship. This dissertation will examine the effect of neighborhood disorganization and exposure to violence on a population of juveniles in a juvenile justice diversion program in Ohio. The initial sample was made up of 1,039 youth who were included in the Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice (BHJJ) Initiative, a community based treatment program for youth in the juvenile justice system with mental health and substance use issues. Data were collected from the 2000 United States Census, juvenile court records, and survey data from youth, program staff, and caregivers. Competing structural equation models were proposed to test the pathways from neighborhood disorganization to exposure to violence, trauma, and violent offending.

Two findings are of note. First, the data indicated that exposure to violence is best conceptualized as a context specific measure where violent victimization and witnessing violence is separated out by contextual location. Second, the structural equation model identified as the most adequate fit to the data showed a link between neighborhood disorganization and neighborhood violence exposure, and a link between exposure to violence in schools and homes and symptoms of anger. However, the data did not indicate a clear path from neighborhood disorganization to exposure to violence, trauma symptoms, and violent offending. Group comparison models also showed race specific pathways, as well as pathways specific to urban and rural samples. Directions for future research including the need to examine self-reported violent behaviors and desensitization to frequent exposure to violence are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brewer, Thomas W., Flannery, Daniel J.
Commitee: Banks, Christopher, Kretschmar, Jeff, Owens, Timothy
School: Kent State University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Criminology
Keywords: Neighborhood disorganization, Trauma, Youth exposure to violence
Publication Number: 10630921
ISBN: 9780355012477
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