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Risk factors for violent behaviors among ethnically diverse urban adolescents: Beyond race/ethnicity.

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Frank A. Biafora

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The higher rate of juvenile homicide among African-American males than among white males has led many to the assumption that blacks are more violent than whites and other racial/ethnic groups. The present study examines that hypothesis in the context of 3955 inner-city Miami boys who were surveyed over a three-year period from grades 6 and 7 to grades 8 and 9. Concurrent risk factors were more predictive than prospective risk factors in relation to self-reported violence in grades 8 and 9. A variety of familial, psychosocial, sociocultural and school-based risk factors for violence were examined. These included race/ethnicity, normative values, derogation (from self, teachers and parents), cocaine and crack use, marital and educational status of parents, grade in school, beliefs (on several levels) and behaviors (delinquency, response to anger, etc). Gun carrying at school was only slightly more prevalent among American blacks (6% for the partial school term) than among whites (4%) and boys of other races. White boys were more likely to carry knives than American blacks. Using a composite of violent behavior, no single racial group was more violent than another (F = .508,p = .83). Haitians, Caribbean blacks and Nicaraguans were more likely to be involved in gangs than other groups. Normlessness, low empathy, stealing, law-breaking and wanting to quit school and leave home function as a constellation of risk factors that appear to increase the likelihood of weapon carrying and interpersonal violence regardless of race/ethnicity. Other risk factors vary by race/culture group.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in School Psychology International, 17(2), 171-186. DOI: 10.1177/0143034396172006 Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




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