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Firearm Involvement in Delinquent Youth and Collateral Consequences in Young Adulthood: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2018
14 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of the first prospective longitudinal study to examine how exposure to firearms during adolescence predicts the perpetration and victimization of firearm violence through young adulthood.

The study involved a large and diverse random sample of juvenile detainees (N=1,829) that included youth processed as juveniles and transferred to adult court. Participants were first interviewed in the late 1990s and tracked and re-interviewed up to 13 times during the 16 years after detention, up to a median age of 32. Self-reported data and records on criminal activity, injury, and mortality were obtained, along with risk and protective factors known to influence perpetration and victimization. Differences sere noted by sex and race/ethnicity. Approximately 75 percent of males and 50 percent of females reported "easy access" to firearms prior to age 18. Nearly 75 percent of males and just over 25 percent of females reported "any use" of a firearm prior to age 18. Among males, both Hispanics and African-Americans were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to have used firearms. Just over 25 percent of males and one-tenth of females reported being in a gang that carried firearms prior to age 18. Racial/ethnic differences were not statistically significant for males or females. Being threatened with a weapon prior to age 18 was common, and nearly 1 in 10 males and 3.3 percent of females had a gunshot injury prior to age 18. In adulthood (median age 32), 41.3 percent of males and 10.5 percent of females had perpetrated firearm violence. Firearm ownership in adulthood was prevalent. Prior research has shown that firearm violence spreads through social networks similar to how disease epidemics spread. This report advises that an aggressive approach to preventing firearm violence is needed, such as would be used to address any other public health crisis. 32 references

Date Published: July 1, 2018