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Youth Organizations and Their Role in Lessening the Exposure to Violence Among Urban Youth

In an article in the Journal of Community Psychology, TC Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Margo Gardner, a researcher at the College's for Children and Young Families, report on their discovery of an inverse association between the variety of youth organizations available at in an urban neighborhood and adolescents' exposure to community violence.

In an article in the Journal of Community Psychology, TC Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Margo Gardner, a researcher at the College’s for Children and Young Families, report on their discovery of an inverse association between the variety of youth organizations available at in an urban neighborhood and adolescents’ exposure to community violence.

Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), and Brooks-Gun found that “exposure to community violence occurs less frequently among adolescents who live in neighborhoods that offer a greater, versus lesser, variety of youth organizations.” Although that finding is keeping with the common perception about the protective role youth organizations play in neighborhoods, the relationship isn’t as straightforward as having access to a greater variety of neighborhood youth organizations equates to adolescents’ participation in organized community-based activities, which, in turn, protects against community violence exposure.

“Most assume that the benefits of neighborhood youth organizations operate primarily through youths’ participation in enriching, organized activities that both diminish the amount of time spent in idle, unsupervised activities and promote positive development,” the researchers write. “Our findings suggest that the protection against violence exposure afforded by neighborhood youth organizations operates at a different level. Participation in organized community-based activities does not appear to protect youth from violence exposure; rather, youth organizations may protect against violence exposure by deterring violent crime at the neighborhood level.”

To read the full journal article, go to http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122282709/PDFSTART. To read a 2008 research article by and Brooks-Gunn on adolescent involvement in organized activities and its relationship to educational, civic, and occupational success in young adulthood, go to http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/44/3/814.pdf.

Published Friday, Sep. 11, 2009

Youth Organizations and Their Role in Lessening the Exposure to Violence Among Urban Youth

In an article in the Journal of Community Psychology, TC Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Margo Gardner, a researcher at the College’s for Children and Young Families, report on their discovery of an inverse association between the variety of youth organizations available at in an urban neighborhood and adolescents’ exposure to community violence.

Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), and Brooks-Gun found that “exposure to community violence occurs less frequently among adolescents who live in neighborhoods that offer a greater, versus lesser, variety of youth organizations.” Although that finding is keeping with the common perception about the protective role youth organizations play in neighborhoods, the relationship isn’t as straightforward as having access to a greater variety of neighborhood youth organizations equates to adolescents’ participation in organized community-based activities, which, in turn, protects against community violence exposure.

“Most assume that the benefits of neighborhood youth organizations operate primarily through youths’ participation in enriching, organized activities that both diminish the amount of time spent in idle, unsupervised activities and promote positive development,” the researchers write. “Our findings suggest that the protection against violence exposure afforded by neighborhood youth organizations operates at a different level. Participation in organized community-based activities does not appear to protect youth from violence exposure; rather, youth organizations may protect against violence exposure by deterring violent crime at the neighborhood level.”

To read the full journal article, go to http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122282709/PDFSTART. To read a 2008 research article by and Brooks-Gunn on adolescent involvement in organized activities and its relationship to educational, civic, and occupational success in young adulthood, go to http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/44/3/814.pdf.

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