Study Exposes Deep Structural Racial Differences in Exposure To Firearm Violence

Bindu Kalesan PhD MPH Director Evan’s Center for Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research Assistant Professor of Medicine Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology Department of Medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA 02118MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bindu Kalesan PhD MPH
Director
Evan’s Center for Translational Epidemiology and
Comparative Effectiveness Research
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology
Department of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA 02118 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kalesan: Firearm injuries are one of the 3 major causes of death in children in the US. for every 7 pediatric firearm deaths there are 8 children non-fatally injured by a gun. Those that survive will live with disability and severe morbidity. From our earlier studies, we found that this burden of survivorship and injury is different according to race/ethnicity. There is also evidence that Injury related hospitalizations are also associated low-income households and neighborhoods. In the background of gun (violence) control, frequently comparisons are drawn between firearm injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

In this study we use nationally representative hospitalization data and compared pediatric firearm-related hospitalization and pedestrian motor vehicle accident hospitalizations to assess whether the risk of firearm related hospitalizations among minorities varies depending on the neighborhood they live.

We found that black children were at substantially greater risk of firearm hospitalization as compared to pedestrian motor vehicle hospitalization. This greater risk of firearm hospitalization among black children persisted across neighborhoods. Simply put, the risk of firearm hospitalization versus pedestrian motor vehicle hospitalization among black children was high, regardless of whether they lived in low income or high income neighborhoods.We also found that all minority race children (black, Hispanic and other race) as compared to white children were at a greater likelihood of homicide-firearm hospitalization than of pedestrian motor vehicle hospitalization and all minority race children were significantly less likely to be hospitalized for unintentional firearm than pedestrian injuries in comparison to white children. Therefore, overall we found a minority race disadvantage regardless of whether they lived in high and low-income neighborhoods.

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Young Black Men Who Feel Powerless Engage In More High Risk Behaviors

Alvin Thomas, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Associate Director Center For Excellence in Diversity Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA  94304MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alvin Thomas, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Associate Director Center For Excellence in Diversity
Palo Alto University
Palo Alto, CA  94304

Walking Away Hurt, Walking Around Scared: A Cluster Analysis of Violence Exposure Among Young Black Males

Alvin Thomas and Elan C. Hope

Using a person-centered approach, we examine phenomenological variations in exposure to violence for Black males and describe risk and protective factors associated with patterns of violence exposure. We ran K-means iterative cluster analysis to determine patterns of violence exposure and conducted analysis of variance to test whether clusters differed. Data are from 287 Black males (M = 18.9) who participated in the Black Youth Project–Youth Culture Survey. Participants in the current study self-identified as Black or African American and male, and completed the political participation, health, and demographic portions of the survey questionnaire. We found four clusters of violence exposure that were related to demographic characteristics, maternal closeness, neighborhood condition, and sociopolitical inequity. Our findings highlight the heterogeneity of exposure to violence among young Black males and the individual and environmental risk and protective factors that are related to types and levels of exposure. This examination of quality of violence exposure in the context of available risks and protective factors may help clinicians and researchers improve their intervention efforts.

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Thomas: It is a fact that young Black males are more likely than any other demographic to be exposed to violence. However there is an incorrect assumption of homogeneity of the violence experienced by young Black males. These assumptions have deleterious effects for young Black males. Against the backdrop of high murder rates in cities like Chicago and increased deadly police interactions with this population across the US it is important to understand the phenomenology of violence exposure for young Black males.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Thomas: We found phenomenological differences in young Black males’ exposure to violence as victims and perpetrators. A large portion of the young men in this sample had a few experiences with violence and primarily as victims. Some youth attempted to fend of victimization by carrying weapons or engaging in fights to protect themselves.

Youth with the highest rate of victimization and perpetration also had poorest outcomes, and felt most disenfranchised. Many of these young people felt that their access to resources like education and justice was limited compared to other youth, and they felt powerless to effect change on the status quo. This feeling of powerlessness is related to high-risk behaviors. Young Black males who had been more exposed to violence were at highest risk of feeling disenfranchised, discriminated against, and disconnected from society.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Thomas: Clinicians need to be aware of the very real effect of the violence experiences of young Black males on their health, and assess the effect of these as part of an overall plan of treatment. Retention of minority clients in mental and physical health treatment is as critical an issue as service utilization within this same population. The disenfranchisement and disconnect from the status quo that young Black males feel owing partly to their life experiences is a critical consideration as clinicians seek to provide much needed services. Assessment of trauma exposure and effects for clients who have a history of violence exposure may be an important element in triage and treatment.

Patients should be aware that exposure to violent experiences could affect their inter and intra-personal relationships. They should discuss this psychosocial history with their mental and physical health service providers to determine whether their exposure to violence is contributing to their current health concerns.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Thomas: Researchers should explore the effectiveness of youth programs that focus on young Black males. Such programs should help youth explore issues of social disconnect, disenfranchisement, and disillusionment, while also providing skills to empower youth to effect personal and systemic change. Policy research and inclusion efforts have to address the very real experiences of young Black males and make real changes to the way the representatives of the sociopolitical system interact with young Black males. We know the quality of many of the risks facing young Black males in America, the research on how to protect these young Black males must mushroom, and the findings applied.

Citation:

Alvin Thomas and Elan C. Hope

Walking Away Hurt, Walking Around Scared: A Cluster Analysis of Violence Exposure Among Young Black Males
Journal of Black Psychology 0095798415603539, first published on September 8, 2015 doi:10.1177/0095798415603539

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Alvin Thomas, Ph.D. (2015). Young Black Men Who Feel Powerless Engage In More High Risk Behaviors 

Gang Violence Spreads Like An Infectious Disease

April M. Zeoli, PhD, MPH Associate Professor School of Criminal Justice Michigan State UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
April M. Zeoli, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
Lansing, MI 48824

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Zeoli: My team and I are interested in whether an infectious disease model can be applied to homicide. In other words, can homicide be described as being “contagious” and does it spread through a city in a systematic pattern? In our previous research, we showed that homicide did spread through Newark, New Jersey, in a manner similar to an infectious disease (http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2012/homicide-spreads-like-infectious-disease/). However, not all types of homicide may be “contagious.” In this research, we looked at seven motive types of homicide to determine which, if any, of them clustered and spread from one place to another over time.

Of the seven types of homicide we examined, only gang-motivated homicides displayed a pattern of clustering and spreading through Newark, NJ. However, while drug-motivated and revenge homicides did not spread, they did cluster in the same general geographic areas during much of the same time that gang-motivated homicides clustered together.

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Boys and Girls Can Be Victims of Teen Dating Violence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Kevin Vagi, Ph.D

Division of Violence Prevention,
CDC’s Injury Center.

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Vagi: Although there has been research on teen dating violence (TDV) for several decades, the subject has only received attention as a public health concern in recent years. Over time, prevalence estimates of physical teen dating violence victimization from CDC’s national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (first measured in 1999) have remained around 9% with similar rates among female and male students. Until recently, there have been no ongoing national studies of sexual TDV to our knowledge.

This article describes new physical and sexual teen dating violence victimization questions first administered in the 2013 YRBS, shares the prevalence and frequency of TDV and national estimates using these new questions, and assesses associations of teen dating violence experience with health-risk behaviors. By including questions on both physical and sexual TDV, we are able to look at those youth who experienced physical TDV only, sexual TDV only, both physical and sexual TDV, any TDV, and none. These distinctions were important when investigating health outcomes associated with different types or combinations of TDV, as some health-risk behaviors have been shown to be associated with certain types of teen dating violence but not others.

In 2013, among high school students who dated, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 10 males experienced physical and/or sexual TDV in the 12 months before the survey. The majority of students who experienced physical and sexual teen dating violence experience it more than once. Students who experienced both physical and sexual TDV are more likely to have other health-risks, such as suicidal ideation and behavior, fighting, carrying a weapon, being electronically bullied, alcohol and drug use, and risky sexual behaviors. This report also offers the first national estimate of sexual TDV. Findings suggest that comprehensive prevention efforts should focus on helping students develop healthy relationship skills to prevent teen dating violence and other risk behaviors. Continue reading

Video Game Violence May Not Increase Violent Crime

Christopher J. Ferguson PhD. Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology Department of Psychology Stetson University DeLand, FL MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christopher J. Ferguson PhD.
Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology
Department of Psychology
Stetson University DeLand, FL

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ferguson: People have debated whether media violence contributes to societal violence for centuries.  A lot of individual laboratory experiments have tried to answer this question, but results have always tended to be inconsistent.  Not too much data had yet looked at concordance between media violence and societal violence.  In the current study I examined levels of movie violence across the 20th century, and video game violence in the latter part of the 20th, into the 21st century.  Results generally indicted that it was not possible to demonstrate that media violence consumption correlated with increased crime in society.

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Accidents and Violence Account For Most Deaths Among US Young People

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tamara Haegerich, PhD Deputy Associate Director for Science Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention CDC - National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tamara Haegerich, PhD
Deputy Associate Director for Science
Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention
CDC – National Center for Injury Prevention and Control


MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Haegerich: In the first three decades of life, more people in the US die from injuries and violence than from any other cause. Approximately 60% of fatal injuries are unintentional (for example, from motor vehicle crashes, drug overdose, and falls), 20% are due to suicide, and 20% are due to homicide. Injuries and violence have been linked to a wide range of physical, mental health, and reproductive health problems, and chronic diseases. They take an enormous economic toll, including the cost of medical care and lost productivity. Importantly, injuries and violence are preventable through education, behavior change, policy, engineering, and environmental supports. For example, laws that promote the use of seat belts and child safety seats, and prevent drunk driving, can reduce motor-vehicle-related injuries. Early childhood home visitation, school-based programs, and therapeutic foster care are examples of evidence-based approaches to preventing violence. Improving proper prescribing of painkillers and access to treatment for substance misuse could prevent prescription drug overdoses. Improvements are possible by framing injuries and violence as preventable, identifying interventions that are cost-effective and based on research, providing information to decision makers, and strengthening the capacity of the health care system.

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