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South Bronx adolescents don't feel safe at home

Almost half (46 percent) of the young people in the South Bronx say they don't feel safe in the building where they live, new research shows.

Interviewed by public health and urban violence professionals, 23 percent of the adolescents reported they had been beaten up, 10 percent stabbed, and eight percent shot. In addition, many of the youths had witnessed violent acts; 60 percent had witnessed someone being beaten up, 25 percent someone being stabbed, and 23 percent someone being shot. However, many of the respondents also reported that they took action to reduce the violence, such as helping friends to resolve conflicts peacefully, avoiding dangerous places, and seeking protection from friends.

The street survey of 169 adolescents is part of a new study seeking to integrate young people's perceptions of violence into violence prevention programs in the South Bronx and other urban areas in America. The scientists from Hunter College, City University of New York, University of Illinois, Youth Force, Bronx, New York, and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey report their findings in the December issue of Health Education & Behavior.

"Violence prevention programs need to address the real threats that young people experience, not those imagined by adults," said Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPh, head of the study. "Our focus groups identified many of these real threats including family abuse or neglect, youth programs that fail to provide the skills needed to avoid violence, mass media that portrays non-white young men as the enemy, and police attitudes that make victims reluctant to report crime."

The researchers did not find significant differences between young men and women in rates of exposure to violence. Young women were asked in focus groups to speculate why there wasnt a difference. They felt that women may have become more aggressive in recent years. "We are stronger and don't take ---- from anyone," one young woman said, but
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Contact: Nicholas Freudenberg, Dr.Ph.
nfreuden@hunter.cuny.edu
212-481-4363
Center for the Advancement of Health
14-Nov-1999


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