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Study finds predictors for youth violence and drugs

h group identification in a separate article in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Most obviously, members of the group who had initially reported to have engaged in violent behavior in the past were likely to continue to engage in such behavior.

The study asked a number of questions about drug use, including frequency of use of a range of other drugs, from cigarettes and alcohol to methamphetamine and heroin. Surprisingly, the only drug whose use was found to significantly predict later violence, when contrasted with other drug use predictors was marijuana.

In the study the authors comment that "the relevance of marijuana use to the perpetuation of violence has been debated for at least 60 years in the United States. Some work has suggested that marijuana use might inhibit expression of aggression, but most studies do indicate a positive association between marijuana use and violence perpetuation. Another predictor was having been a victim of either of violent attack or having had property stolen or damaged.

Also measured at the same time was a high feeling of vulnerability to physical attack. All these were predictive of violent behavior, as was the expression of the belief by students that the police could not protect them. A logical concomitant of such a belief, carrying weapons, was also a violence predictor.

The students were also asked in earlier interviews whether they went to places - parties, streets, parks - which they knew were unsafe. An affirmative answer on this question was also associated with violence reported in the follow-up interviews.

The large role played by victimization as a predictor of future violence suggested to the researchers that these youth may become embedded in a lifestyle infected with violence, or that they simply learn to do as has been done to them.

The authors of the study append no less than eight limitations of the study, ranging from the racial heterogeneity of the st
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Contact: Eric Mankin
mankin@usc.edu
213-740-9344
University of Southern California
11-Jun-1999


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