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Unpacking the Influence of Neighborhood Context and Antisocial Propensity on Violent Victimization of Children and Adolescents in Chicago

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2011
79 pages
This research combines two theories to understand violent victimization among children and adolescents, exploring independent and interactive influences that neighborhood disadvantage and low self-control have on the risk of violent victimization.
Results from a combination of models revealed that violent victimization did not significantly vary across neighborhoods, and independent of various behavioral and lifestyle choices made by children and adolescents, low self-control increased the risk for becoming a victim of violence. Additionally, choices made by them also influenced their risk of violent victimization; those who reported engaging in violent offending, spending more time in unstructured activities, and having more delinquent peers had a higher risk of being a victim of violence. Further analysis shows that the association between low self-control and violent victimization risk varies across levels of neighborhood concentrated disadvantage in which youth live; low self-control's influence in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods dissipated while it was amplified for those living in the least disadvantaged neighborhoods. Unstructured socializing with peers was the only factor that significantly influenced violent victimization risk across low, medium and high disadvantaged neighborhoods. Findings are consistent with a "social push" perspective, which suggests that disadvantaged environments provide social pressures that may override the influence of individual differences on vulnerability to violent victimization. Data from the 9, 12, and 15-year old cohorts of the Longitudinal Cohort Study in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN-LCS) were used in this study. Data analyzed were from self-reports of children, adolescents, and their primary caregivers during waves 1 and 2 of the longitudinal data collection effort. In addition, neighborhood structural characteristics from the U.S. Census were also analyzed. Implications of this study's findings are discussed as they relate to policy, prevention and theory; while also setting forth a research agenda on neighborhoods, antisocial traits, and violent victimization risk for future research.

Date Published: December 1, 2011