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Examining the Relation Between Early Violence Exposure and Firearm-Related Experiences in Emerging Adulthood: A Longitudinal Cohort Study

NCJ Number
Psychological Reports Dated: May 2024 Pages: 1-22
Date Published
May 2024
22 pages

This document describes a research study in which the authors analyzed data from a 10-year longitudinal study on the relationship between experiencing childhood physical abuse and firearm-threatening victimization and perpetuation in juveniles.


Firearms are a leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults in the United States. Early exposure to violence, as a victim or witness, is associated with increased risk of firearm-related experiences, including carrying and threatening others with a gun. These experiences, in turn, increase the risk of both fatal and non-fatal firearm injuries. Using an ethnically diverse sample of emerging adults, the authors build on prior research by examining the link between early violence exposure at multiple contexts of the social-ecological model and multiple firearm-related experiences (i.e., firearm-threatening victimization, firearm-threatening perpetration, and firearm carriage). The authors analyzed data from a 10-year longitudinal study of 1,042 youth in the Southern United States. Experiencing childhood physical abuse was associated with both firearm-threatening victimization and perpetration in emerging adulthood. Additionally, exposure to neighborhood and interparental violence were linked to threatening others with firearms and carrying firearms, respectively. Counter to expectations, bullying victimization did not emerge as a predictor of any firearm-related experiences. Findings highlight the importance of cross-cutting violence prevention efforts to prevent high-risk firearm-related behaviors among emerging adults. Programs for children and adolescents that address these types of violence exposure should highlight coping skills and sources of positive social support to bolster protective factors against firearm-related outcomes. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: May 1, 2024