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Event Dynamics and the Role of Third Parties in Youth Violence

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $259,756)

The proposed research will examine the situational aspects of violence among urban youth to expand existing perspectives on offender decision making in conflict situations, the roles of third parties in violence, and the application of the principles of situational crime prevention to violent crime. The project will capitalize on analyses of an existing event-level dataset that consists of a sample of 837 violent or near-violent events reported by 419 male minority youths (mean age 19.5) in New York City from 1995-1998. The study will employ two complimentary qualitative analytic approaches: a grounded theory approach and event structure analysis. A major focus of the project will be to develop concrete recommendations for policy and practice relying heavily on the situational crime prevention framework.

Research on violent events has suggested that the likelihood of violence reflects the progression of decisions across a series of identifiable stages with contingencies at each stage that are shaped by external influences and social interactions of the actors. Yet the data have generally not been available to answer more useful questions such as what the contingencies are, how actors take them into account, and how they vary as an event progresses through these stages. Although prior studies provide generalized classifications of violent event stages, a finer-tuned assessment of the actions and reactions of actors in violent encounters that is possible from detailed event narratives will shed new light on the micro-level decisions and contextual influences across a range of types of violent encounters. The findings will be used to develop a typology of events and a typology of the procedural 'scripts' of violence.

Third parties witness or somehow become involved in an estimated two-thirds of interpersonal violence in the United States. Previous research concludes that bystanders and third parties contribute significantly to the outcome of violent encounters yet empirical research about the specific contributions that third parties make in promoting or preventing the escalation of interpersonal conflict to violence is rare. The study will test Black's theory of third parties.


Date Created: May 23, 2006