Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)
Conversations about violence rivet our society. The media highlights dramatic events like mass shootings, especially in high-income communities. Less often reported are violent incidents that affect persons living in under-resourced communities. Black and Hispanic communities are disproportionately affected: For example, according to the latest National Crime Victimization Survey, Black people are 43% more likely than non-Hispanic white people to be victims of violent crime, excluding simple assault. The proposed study will add needed information about the causes and consequences of violence in the community by continuing to study participants in our 28-year longitudinal study, the Northwestern Juvenile Project (NJP). The NJP included 1829 youth, sampled in the mid-1990s at ages 10-18, when they were arrested and detained. Since then, we have tracked or reinterviewed participants wherever they lived when an interview was due—in correctional facilities or the community. Extending the NJP to study community violence is advantageous for several reasons: (1) Youth who have been detained are a particularly high-risk group for both engaging in and being victimized by violent crime; most eventually return to their communities. (2) Violent perpetration and victimization—including death by firearms and other causes—are sufficiently common in our sample, a feature not usually found in general population studies. (3) We will have data on victimization and perpetration from adolescence through median age 42. (4) The sample includes males (55.7%) and females (44.3%) and enough Black and Hispanic participants to evaluate sex and racial/ethnic differences. Hispanic people are now the largest minority group in the U.S., comprising 18.9% of the population. (5) We have extensive data on modifiable risk factors, which we began collecting when participants were adolescents. (6) We can leverage data already collected in the NJP (17,766 interviews from up to 13 time points) and incorporate data currently being collected in a related study of original participants’ children (Next Generation, approximately 375 interviews). We will collect 250 new structured interviews that focus on victimization and violence. The proposed study will examine: (1) Violent Behavior, including patterns, trajectories, and predictors of persistence and desistance of violent behavior through median age 42; (2) Violent Victimization, including patterns and predictors of violent victimization; and (3) Bidirectional Relationships, victim-offender overlap of violent behavior and victimization. Expanding the NJP will provide the empirical basis needed to guide the development of policies, legal changes, and preventive interventions that are most needed to support violence prevention in the community.