September 17, 2019
2 min read

Adult support may mitigate violence-related behaviors in urban youth

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Co-occurrence patterns indicated association clusters of sexual violence, youth violence and bullying perpetration among male youth in urban neighborhoods; however, those with adult social support reported significantly fewer risk behaviors, according to study findings.

“Understanding nuanced patterns across types of violence perpetration and associated exposures, and how these patterns align with multiple risk and protective factors among male youth in urban neighborhoods can identify targets for intervention,” Alison J. Culyba, MD, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues wrote.

Culyba and colleagues evaluated the links between adult support and patterns of violence and risk or protective behavior co-occurrence among male teenagers aged 13 to 19 years in urban neighborhoods in a cross-sectional analysis of baseline and end-of-program data from a cluster-randomized sexual violence prevention trial across 20 lower-resource neighborhoods.

Using surveys, researchers examined youth violence, bullying, sexual and dating violence, history of exposure to violence and related adversities, substance use, school engagement and future orientation for detailed co-occurrence patterns. Then, they examined the associations between social support and natural mentoring from adults and violence involvement.

Overall, 866 teenaged participants completed baseline surveys and 577 completed end-of-program surveys. Analysis yielded seven clusters of risk and protective behaviors:

  • school engagement;
  • career and future aspirations;
  • substance use and bullying exposure;
  • exposure to violence and related hardships, sexual violence exposure and gang involvement;
  • sexual violence, youth violence and bullying perpetration;
  • dating abuse perpetration; and
  • physical or sexual partner violence perpetration.

Culyba and colleagues found that the strongest association cluster occurred among sexual and dating violence perpetration behaviors, wherein participants who reported perpetrating one form of dating and sexual violence were likely to report perpetrating other associated behaviors.

However, participants with high social support engaged in significantly fewer risk behaviors than those with low social support (mean difference = 1.64 behaviors; 95% CI, 0.63-2.64), according to the results. In addition, both high social support and natural mentoring inversely associated with gang involvement (social support: OR = 0.39 [95% CI, 0.22-0.71]; and natural mentoring: OR = 0.44 [95% CI, 0.25- 0.76]) and sexual violence exposure (social support: OR = 0.39 [95% CI, 0.24-0.64]; and natural mentoring: OR = 0.61 [95% CI, 0.39-0.98]).

“Results can encourage development of violence prevention programs that recognize complex co-occurrence and address multiple forms of violence simultaneously,” Culyba and colleagues wrote. “Such integrated approaches can make expeditious use of limited resources and increase the public health impact of violence prevention programs.” – by Savannah Demko

Disclosures: Culyba reported grants from CDC and NIH. No other authors report any relevant financial disclosures.