Gun possession among American youth: a discovery-based approach to understand gun violence.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To apply discovery-based computational methods to nationally representative data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions' Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System to better understand and visualize the behavioral factors associated with gun possession among adolescent youth. RESULTS: Our study uncovered the multidimensional nature of gun possession across nearly five million unique data points over a ten year period (2001-2011). Specifically, we automated odds ratio calculations for 55 risk behaviors to assemble a comprehensive table of associations for every behavior combination. Downstream analyses included the hierarchical clustering of risk behaviors based on their association "fingerprint" to 1) visualize and assess which behaviors frequently co-occur and 2) evaluate which risk behaviors are consistently found to be associated with gun possession. From these analyses, we identified more than 40 behavioral factors, including heroin use, using snuff on school property, having been injured in a fight, and having been a victim of sexual violence, that have and continue to be strongly associated with gun possession. Additionally, we identified six behavioral clusters based on association similarities: 1) physical activity and nutrition; 2) disordered eating, suicide and sexual violence; 3) weapon carrying and physical safety; 4) alcohol, marijuana and cigarette use; 5) drug use on school property and 6) overall drug use. CONCLUSIONS: Use of computational methodologies identified multiple risk behaviors, beyond more commonly discussed indicators of poor mental health, that are associated with gun possession among youth. Implications for prevention efforts and future interdisciplinary work applying computational methods to behavioral science data are described.
Project description:Gun-related violence is a public health concern. This study synthesizes findings on associations between substance use and gun-related behaviors. Searches through PubMed, Embase, and PsycINFO located 66 studies published in English between 1992 and 2014. Most studies found a significant bivariate association between substance use and increased odds of gun-related behaviors. However, their association after adjustment was mixed, which could be attributed to a number of factors such as variations in definitions of substance use and gun activity, study design, sample demographics, and the specific covariates considered. Fewer studies identified a significant association between substance use and gun access/possession than other gun activities. The significant association between nonsubstance covariates (e.g., demographic covariates and other behavioral risk factors) and gun-related behaviors might have moderated the association between substance use and gun activities. Particularly, the strength of association between substance use and gun activities tended to reduce appreciably or to become nonsignificant after adjustment for mental disorders. Some studies indicated a positive association between the frequency of substance use and the odds of engaging in gun-related behaviors. Overall, the results suggest a need to consider substance use in research and prevention programs for gun-related violence.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Youth reporting combined histories of nonfatal violence, suicidal ideation/behavior, and gun-carrying (VSG) are at risk for perpetrating fatal interpersonal violence and self-harm. AIMS:We characterized these youth to inform prevention efforts. METHOD:We analyzed 2004 data from 3,931 seventh-, ninth-, and 11-12th-grade youth and compared VSG youth (n = 66) with non-gun carrying youth who either had no histories of violence or suicidal thoughts/behavior (n = 1,839), histories of violence (n = 884), histories of suicidal thoughts/behaviors (n = 552), or both (n = 590). We compared groups based on demographic factors, risk factors (i.e., friends who engage in delinquency, peer-violence victimization, depressive symptoms, illicit substance use), and protective factors (i.e., school connectedness, parental care and supervision). Regression models identified factors associated with VSG youth. RESULTS:Illicit substance use and having friends who engage in delinquency were more common among VSG youth in all comparisons; almost all VSG youth had high levels of these factors. Depressive symptoms were positively associated with VSG youth versus youth without either violent or suicide-related histories and youth with violent histories alone. School connectedness and parental supervision were negatively associated with VSG youth in most comparisons. CONCLUSION:Family-focused and school-based interventions that increase connectedness while reducing delinquency and substance use might prevent these violent tendencies.
Project description:Longitudinal studies have found that male adolescents who deal drugs, associate with delinquent peers, and engage in aggressive behavior are at increased risk for carrying a gun (between-individual risks). However, it is unclear whether changes in these risk factors help to explain fluctuations in youth gun carrying across adolescence (within-individual risks). The current study examined this issue using a community sample of 970 adolescent males (58% Black, 42% White) assessed annually from ages 14 to 18. Multilevel models examined the extent to which between-individual differences and within-individual changes in drug dealing, peer delinquency, aggressive behavior, and neighborhood disadvantage were associated with gun carrying across adolescence. Each of these predictors, except for disadvantage, exerted a between-individual and within-individual influence for Black youth. For White youth, drug dealing was significant on both levels, peer delinquency was a significant between-individual predictor, and aggression was a significant within-individual predictor. Neighborhood disadvantage did not significantly predict gun carrying in the model, on either the between- or within-individual level, for Black or White youth. These results stress the importance of examining race-specific predictors of gun carrying among Black and White adolescents and point to drug dealing as a robust predictor of gun carrying, at both the between-individual and within-individual levels for youth of either race. Efforts to prevent drug market involvement and reduce aggressive behaviors in adolescence may in turn prove useful for preventing firearm violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Despite ample research examining how alcohol use relates to gun involvement, little is known about the relationship between opioids and gun involvement. In the current study, we examined correlates of gun possession, accessibility, and related behaviors in an opioid dependent sample. METHODS:Between October 2016 and April 2017, we surveyed persons entering a brief, inpatient opioid detoxification (n?=?386) and 51 contemporaneous persons seeking alcohol detoxification at the same facility in Massachusetts and recorded their lifetime experiences with gun involvement. RESULTS:Participants averaged 33 years of age, 74% were male, 83% were White, and 64% had a history of incarceration. Opioid users had significantly higher rates of gun involvement than persons in alcohol detoxification; for example, 31.3% (vs. 3.9%) had carried a gun for protection, 45.1% (vs. 25.5%) had been threatened with a gun, and 13.8% (vs. 2.0%) had shot at another person. Among persons misusing opioids, male and non-White respondents, and those with a history of incarceration or poorer self-control reported greater gun involvement. CONCLUSIONS:Opioid users, both men and women, lead gun-involved lives.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To examine the association between parental disengagement in childhood and adolescent gun carrying and determine whether this association is accounted for by externalizing problems and affiliation with delinquent peers during early adolescence. METHODS:The sample included 503 boys (55.7% African American, 40.6% white, 3.7% other) recruited from first-grade classrooms in Pittsburgh public schools. Multi-informant assessments were conducted regularly (semiannually then annually) from approximately ages 7.5 to 20 years. Latent factors were constructed by using parent-reported parental disengagement (ie, poor parental involvement, poor parent-son communication, poor parent-son relationship quality) collected from ages 7.5 to 10 years, youth-reported peer delinquency from ages 10.5 to 13 years, and teacher-reported externalizing problems from ages 10.5 to 13 years. The outcome was youth-reported gun carrying from ages 14 to 20 years. RESULTS:Twenty percent of individuals sampled reported carrying a gun during adolescence. Childhood parental disengagement was significantly associated with adolescent gun carrying (? = .22; 95% confidence interval: 0.08 to 0.36). Furthermore, the association between parental disengagement and gun carrying was partially mediated through peer delinquency and externalizing problems during early adolescence. The 2 indirect paths accounted for ?29% of the total effect of parental disengagement. CONCLUSIONS:Boys exposed to poorer parental engagement during childhood are more likely to affiliate with delinquent peers and exhibit externalizing problems during early adolescence, which (in turn) increases their risk of carrying a firearm in later adolescence. This suggests that gun violence prevention efforts with children should work to enhance aspects of parental engagement.
Project description:BACKGROUND:We aimed to evaluate the variation in gun violence-related research in the US over time to determine if there are meaningful changes in frequency of research at certain time points. Related publications were searched from the Web of Science. METHODS:We searched articles from Web of Science to collect publication data of gun violence research in three disciplines (clinical sciences, life sciences, and social behavior sciences) from 1981 to 2018. The joinpoint regression approach was applied to evaluate the trend of publication ratio. We also adopted the generalized additive mixed model to compare the publication ratio among the three research disciplines. RESULTS:During the study period, each research discipline had a significant decrease in publication ratios, especially social behavioral sciences from 2001 to 2011, with an annual percentage change?=?-?9.77% (95% CI?=?-?13.45, -?5.93; p-value < .0001). After combining the three research disciplines, the average change of the publication ratio was significantly increased 9.18% (95% CI?=?6.42, 12.01; p-value < .0001) per year from 1981 to 2018. Compared to social behavioral sciences, both clinical sciences and life sciences had a significantly smaller publication ratio. CONCLUSIONS:Gun violence research exhibited a significant downward trend in publications in the early 2000s, which may be attributed at least in part to limited federal funding, but the publication ratio increased since the 2010s. To enhance the amount of peer-reviewed gun violence research so that research-informed gun violence interventions are more likely to succeed, decision-makers should keep supporting quality research.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:The USA has the highest rate of community gun violence of any developed democracy. There is an urgent need to develop feasible, scalable and community-led interventions that mitigate incident gun violence and its associated health impacts. Our community-academic research team received National Institutes of Health funding to design a community-led intervention that mitigates the health impacts of living in communities with high rates of gun violence. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:We adapted 'Building Resilience to Disasters', a conceptual framework for natural disaster preparedness, to guide actions of multiple sectors and the broader community to respond to the man-made disaster of gun violence. Using this framework, we will identify existing community assets to be building blocks of future community-led interventions. To identify existing community assets, we will conduct social network and spatial analyses of the gun violence episodes in our community and use these analyses to identify people and neighbourhood blocks that have been successful in avoiding gun violence. We will conduct qualitative interviews among a sample of individuals in the network that have avoided violence (n=45) and those living or working on blocks that have not been a location of victimisation (n=45) to identify existing assets. Lastly, we will use community-based system dynamics modelling processes to create a computer simulation of the community-level contributors and mitigators of the effects of gun violence that incorporates local population-based based data for calibration. We will engage a multistakeholder group and use themes from the qualitative interviews and the computer simulation to identify feasible community-led interventions. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:The Human Investigation Committee at Yale University School of Medicine (#2000022360) granted study approval. We will disseminate study findings through peer-reviewed publications and academic and community presentations. The qualitative interview guides, system dynamics model and group model building scripts will be shared broadly.
Project description:Exposure to gun violence and African ancestry have been separately associated with increased risk of asthma in Puerto Rican children.The objective of this study was to examine whether African ancestry and gun violence interact on asthma and total IgE in school-aged Puerto Rican children.This is a case-control study of 747 Puerto Rican children aged 9 to 14 years living in San Juan, Puerto Rico (n = 472), and Hartford, Connecticut (n = 275). Exposure to gun violence was defined as the child's report of hearing gunshots more than once, and the percentage of African ancestry was estimated using genome-wide genotypic data. Asthma was defined as parental report of physician-diagnosed asthma and wheeze in the previous year. Serum total IgE (IU/mL) was measured in study participants. Multivariate logistic and linear regressions were used for the analysis of asthma and total IgE, respectively.In multivariate analyses, there was a significant interaction between exposure to gun violence and African ancestry on asthma (P = .001) and serum total IgE (P = .04). Among children exposed to gun violence, each quartile increase in the percentage of African ancestry was associated with approximately 45% higher odds of asthma (95% CI, 1.15-1.84; P = .002) and an approximately 19% increment in total IgE (95% , 0.60-40.65, P = .04). In contrast, there was no significant association between African ancestry and asthma or total IgE in children not exposed to gun violence.Our results suggest that exposure to gun violence modifies the estimated effect of African ancestry on asthma and atopy in Puerto Rican children.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The risk for firearm violence among high-risk youth after treatment for an assault is unknown. METHODS:In this 2-year prospective cohort study, data were analyzed from a consecutive sample of 14- to 24-year-olds with drug use in the past 6 months seeking assault-injury care (AIG) at an urban level 1 emergency department (ED) compared with a proportionally sampled comparison group (CG) of drug-using nonassaulted youth. Validated measures were administered at baseline and follow-up (6, 12, 18, 24 months). RESULTS:A total of 349 AIG and 250 CG youth were followed for 24 months. During the follow-up period, 59% of the AIG reported firearm violence, a 40% higher risk than was observed among the CG (59.0% vs. 42.5%; relative risk [RR] = 1.39). Among those reporting firearm violence, 31.7% reported aggression, and 96.4% reported victimization, including 19 firearm injuries requiring medical care and 2 homicides. The majority with firearm violence (63.5%) reported at least 1 event within the first 6 months. Poisson regression identified baseline predictors of firearm violence, including male gender (RR = 1.51), African American race (RR = 1.26), assault-injury (RR = 1.35), firearm possession (RR = 1.23), attitudes favoring retaliation (RR = 1.03), posttraumatic stress disorder (RR = 1.39), and a drug use disorder (RR = 1.22). CONCLUSIONS:High-risk youth presenting to urban EDs for assault have elevated rates of subsequent firearm violence. Interventions at an index visit addressing substance use, mental health needs, retaliatory attitudes, and firearm possession may help decrease firearm violence among urban youth.
Project description:Prior research has illustrated the importance of some types of local community crime for adolescents' outcomes. However, we have little knowledge about the extent to which gun homicides within adolescents' neighborhoods affect their mental health and behavioral outcomes. This is important because local gun homicide incidents may be uniquely harmful for adolescents and their association with adolescents' mental health and behavior may represent an underappreciated externality of the U.S.'s gun violence epidemic. In this study, we used data on the geocoded location of gun homicides linked with restricted Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study data to examine whether gun homicides incidents near adolescents' homes and/or schools were associated with their mental health and behavioral outcomes. We found that the occurrence of a gun homicide near an adolescent's home or school was associated with significantly worse symptoms of anxiety and depression for girls and, in some cases, with symptoms of anxiety for boys. We further found that these relationships varied depending on the distance of gun homicide incidents to homes and schools.