Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Neighborhood Disorder, Individual Protective Factors, and the Risk of Adolescent Delinquency

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Neighborhood Disorder, Individual Protective Factors, and the Risk of Adolescent Delinquency

Article excerpt

Abstract: Traditionally, violent and delinquent behaviors have been addressed by the criminal justice system, with the focus being secondary and tertiary interventions. During the last decade, the focus on violence as a public health issue has increased. The purpose of this research was to examine how individual protective factors for adolescent delinquency varied according to neighborhood quality. The researcher conducted a secondary data analysis, using data from the National Youth Survey A total of 1,621 adolescents comprised the sample.

The majority of the respondents participated in some type of delinquent behavior, with more Blacks reporting participation in violent behaviors. There was a positive relationship between academic history and no participation in delinquent behavior. The regression model for violent delinquency accounted for 10% of the variance in the disordered neighborhoods. Primary prevention efforts, commonly used by public health nurses, should be aimed at eliminating risk factors such as those found in disordered neighborhoods.

Key Words: Adolescent Violence; Juvenile Delinquency; Public Health Approach To Violence Prevention; Neighborhood Disorder; Protective Factors

Violence has been a part of society since recorded history. Historically, people used violence to resolve conflict, but the costs associated with the use of violence in this manner are great. Medical expenses, lost earnings, and the financing of public programs dealing with victims are estimated to cost $105 billion annually (Miller, Cohen, & Wiersema, 1996). Recent research found the lifetime medical costs associated with gunshot injuries were $2.3 billion, with $1.1 billion (49%) paid by the government, 18% by private insurance, and the remaining 33% by other sources, such as self-payment or the costs being absorbed by the hospital (Cook, Lawrence, Ludwig, & Miller, 1999). Excluded in these estimates are the additional costs associated with being a victim as well as the increased need for police and protective services and related court costs; this increases the estimated costs $450 billion annually (Miller et al., 1996).

Traditionally, violent and delinquent behaviors have been addressed by the criminal justice system, with the primary focus being secondary and tertiary interventions. During the last decade, the focus on violence as a public health issue for Americans of all ages increased (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 1999; Fritz, 2001; Rosenberg, O'Carroll, & Powell, 1992). Why use a public health perspective to address violent behavior? Rockett (1998) wrote that violence is a public health issue because of the resultant high levels of mortality and morbidity. Mercy, Rosenberg, Powell, Broome, and Roper (1993) wrote that using the public approach has the potential to decrease the prevalence and aftermath of violent behavior.

Addressing social issues such as delinquency and violence is not new to public health nurses. Historically, nursing has been concerned with causative factors of health conditions affecting the public. Various professional nursing organizations have developed statements on violence against women, children, and adolescents, and the need to develop effective interventions (American Nurses Association [ANA], 1991; AACN, 1999). The nursing profession has also been influential in helping to change national policies on violence prevention (Campbell, Anderson, Fullmer, Girouard, McElmurry, & Raff, 1993; Campbell, Harris, & Lee, 1995), with many nurse researchers admonishing nurses to direct efforts on primary and secondary prevention measures (Campbell et al., 1993; Campbell, Harris, & Lee, 1995; Malone, 1997).

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recognizes that adolescents living in disordered neighborhoods are at increased risk for injuries related to violence (National Institute of Nursing Research Priority Expert Panel on Community-Based Health Care [NINR Expert Panel on Community-Based Health Care], 1995). …

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