Social network-based studies demonstrate that peer connections influence youth violence, yet less is known about the influence of adolescent-adult networks on violence exposure and involvement. This egocentric social network analysis examined adolescent-adult support networks, youths’ and adults’ attitudes towards violence and retaliation (ATVR), and youth violence exposure.
106 youths, ages 12-22, completed egocentric social network surveys through a community-based violence prevention study in Pittsburgh, PA, from April 2019 to March 2020. Validated survey measures sought to capture youths’ past 30-day violence perpetration, victimization, and witnessing, youths’ own attitudes towards violence and retaliation, as well as youths’ perceptions of their caregiver’s attitudes towards violence and retaliation. Through the egocentric social network survey measures, youth enumerated their family-, school-, and community-based adult supports (alters), and reported on each alter’s violence involvement (ever in a fight, gang, or shot/stabbed) as well as their perceptions of each alter’s attitudes towards violence and retaliation. Adjusted Poisson regression (age, sex, race, parental education, household composition) separately examined associations between 1) youths’, caregivers’ and adult supports’ (alters) attitudes towards violence/retaliation, 2) alters’ violence involvement, and youths’ violence perpetration, victimization, and witnessing.
Mean participant age was 16.7 years (SD=1.9); 55.6% were female and 84.8% identified as Black or African American. Overall, in the past 30 days, 70.8% of youth perpetrated violence, 78.3% experienced victimization, and 92.5% witnessed violence. The mean score for youths’ attitudes towards violence and retaliation was 3.35 (observed range:1.5-5) and 75.5% of youth had endorsed very high attitudes towards violence and retaliation on at least one item. Mean score for perceived caregivers’ attitudes towards violence/retaliation was 3.12 (observed range:1-5). From the egocentric social network survey data, youth identified a mean of 4.8 adult supports in their networks (observed range:1-14). An average of 73.6% of adult supports were either immediate or extended family and 38.2% of all adult supports were involved in violence. Overall, 93.3% of youth listed at least 1 parent/guardian/caregiver as an adult support in their network and 55.6% of those youth reported that at least 1 parent/guardian/caregiver had been involved in violence. Youths’ own attitudes towards violence/retaliation were significantly associated with violence perpetration (aIRR 1.34, 95%CI:1.10-1.62), but not with victimization (aIRR 1.18, 95%CI:0.93-1.51) or witnessing (aIRR 1.16, 95%CI:0.97-1.39). There were no significant associations between perceived caregiver or perceived adult supports’ (alters) attitudes towards violence/retaliation and youth violence perpetration, victimization, or witnessing. Identifying at least one adult support (alter) who had been involved in violence was significantly associated with youth violence victimization (aIRR 1.74, 95%CI:1.04-2.90) and witnessing violence (aIRR 1.71, 95%CI:1.19-2.47). Identifying any parent/guardian/caregiver in one’s support network who had been involved in violence was significantly associated with youth witnessing violence (aIRR 1.38, 95%CI:1.04-1.84).
Violence prevention interventions designed to leverage adolescent-adult support networks should consider trauma-focused supports for those adults which acknowledge how exposure to violence may shape violence risk.
Sources of Support
NIH/NICHD K23HD098277-01; Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee Award.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.