Alison J. Culyba, MD, PhD, MPH Instructor in the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Positive Hopes and Dreams May Protect Urban Youth From Violence Interview with:

Alison J. Culyba, MD, PhD, MPH Instructor in the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Culyba

Alison JCulyba, MD, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Homicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents, and disproportionately affects minority youth in under-resourced urban communities.

Most research on youth violence focuses on risk factors, such as weapon carrying and substance abuse. We know much less about factors that protect youth from violence. Future orientation, defined as hopes and plans for the future, is linked to many important positive outcomes for youth, including doing well in school and avoiding illicit substances. However, there has been very little research to examine whether future orientation may also protect youth from violence.

To study links between future orientation and violence perpetration, we surveyed over 850 male youth in lower resource neighborhoods in Pittsburgh as part of a community-based sexual violence prevention study. We found that youth with positive future orientation were significantly less likely to report threatening someone with a weapon or injuring someone with a weapon in the past nine months. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings suggest that future orientation may be important in protecting youth in lower resource urban neighborhoods from violence. A public health approach to youth violence prevention requires thoughtful and sustained investment in communities and community-based interventions that recognize and support existing strengths. Programs that foster and support positive future orientation may be an important part of comprehensive youth violence prevention interventions. Moving forward, it is important to consider how we can help youth develop positive future orientation, and provide skills and opportunities for them to achieve their goals. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Additional research should follow youth over time to study if positive future orientation protects youth from violence perpetration across adolescence and young adulthood. It is also important to study how future orientation relates to other forms of violence, including peer violence victimization and dating violence. For youth without positive future orientation, we also need to figure out how best to promote positive hopes and plans for the future in a way that confers safety. Taken together, this will help to enhance violence prevention programs. 

Disclosures: This work was funded in part by National Institutes of Health grant number KL2 TR001856 and Centers for Disease Control grant number U01CE002528. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. 


Culyba AJ, Abebe KZ, Albert SM, et al. Association of Future Orientation With Violence Perpetration Among Male Youths in Low-Resource Neighborhoods. JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 02, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1158

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Last Updated on July 6, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD