Study finds predictors for youth violence and drugs

ued violence.

A number of variables stood out. One in particular had never been systematically studied before: self-identification with on-campus subgroups or social sets.

The USC researchers found that students who identified themselves as part of certain "high risk" campus groups showed a high tendency over the course of the subsequent year to become involved with violence, drugs, or both.

The "high risk" groups included "gang members" and "stoners."

Other categories listed on the questionnaire included identification terms such as "brains," "jocks," "popular," and "loners."

In the follow-up reports, the high risk groups reported significantly more alcohol, marijuana and other drug use than others (though not more cigarette smoking); and a much higher number of reports of violence, both offensive and defensive. The high risk group was particularly like to be found carrying weapons onto campus.

"While it may not seem surprising that students who say they identify with high risk group like gang members should be found to be involved in drugs and violence," commented Sussman, "the degree to which this is true, and particularly, the degree to which violence can be predicted from this identification, has never been scientifically studied."

This element of the research will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychology of Addictive Behavior.

In addition to violence the identification with high risk groups was a predictor of later drug use.

It has been speculated, Sussman added, that students who self-identify as loners or outsiders were violence risks. "Our data doesn't show that," he said. Sussman's co-authors on the study were Clyde W. Dent, associate professor at IPR; and project data analyst William J. McCullar, a graduate student at California State University Los Angeles.

Other variables found in initial interviews to be associated during the study period with violence included a range of items, discussed along wit

Contact: Eric Mankin
University of Southern California

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