U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites always use a .gov or .mil domain. Before sharing sensitive information online, make sure you’re on a .gov or .mil site by inspecting your browser’s address (or “location”) bar.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Code of the Street and African-American Adolescent Violence

NCJ Number
223509
Date Published
Author(s)
Eric A. Stewart, Ronald L. Simons
Publication Series
NIJ Research in Brief
Annotation
This report examines the results of research into the validity of the “code of the street” theory developed by a Yale professor explaining high rates of violence among African-American adolescents.
Abstract
The results were generally consistent with Elijah Anderson’s “code of the street” thesis. They suggest that family characteristics, racial discrimination, neighborhood context, and street code values are significant predictors of violence. Findings include: (1) being raised in a “decent” family appears to lower the risk of being involved in violence; (2) the “street” family variable was not related to self-reported violent behavior 2 years later; and (3) reported experience with racial discrimination significantly predicted self-reported violent behavior. The results suggest that neighborhood structural conditions may influence violent behavior. Lastly, the study shows that an individual adolescent’s adoption of the street code is a powerful precursor of violence. Anderson’s thesis bridges the environmental-cultural divide inherent in many urban violence studies. The “code of the street” theory, developed by Anderson presents an explanation for high rates of violence among African-American adolescents. Anderson saw that economic disadvantage, separation from mainstream society, and racial discrimination encountered by some African-American adolescents might lead to antisocial attitudes and to violent behavior. This report presents research exploring Anderson’s thesis. Repeated interviews were conducted with more than 800 African-American adolescents and their primary caregivers in Georgia and Iowa over a 2-year period. Exhibits, notes, and list of additional readings
Date Created: February 19, 2009