U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Firearm Involvement of Parents and Their Adolescent Children: A Prospective Intergenerational Study of High-Risk Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2022
16 pages

This research report aims to guide criminal justice policy and practices through evidence-based understanding of risk factors that influence firearm violence, focusing on high-risk youth and filling data gaps for racial and ethnic minorities.


The project’s three major goals were: to examine patterns of firearm involvement in urban, high-risk adolescents (ages 10-17 years); examine their parents’ (G1) involvement with firearms; examine how parents’ firearm involvement influences that of their children (G2) and identify risk and protective factors that moderate and mediate the relationship between the parent and child’s involvement with firearms. In their research, the authors asked three main questions: what the prevalence and patterns of firearm involvement among urban, high-risk adolescents, and what the sex and racial/ethnic differences is; what the prevalence and patterns of firearm involvement is during the child’s lifetime, and what the sex and racial/ethnic differences are; and what the association between parents’ and children’s firearm involvement is. Authors note that adjustments had to be made to their approach due to COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions put into place in Illinois. Results demonstrated that many parents had previously been involved with firearms, more than four in 10 had owned a gun or perpetrated firearm violence but fewer than four in 10 were currently involved with firearms; nearly all parents had talked to their children about guns; less than one fifth had ever been victimized by guns, and none had been victimized in the past year; the authors discuss the sex differences related to likelihood of a parent ever having been involved with firearms, with fathers tending to be more likely to have been involved with firearms than mothers. The authors also examine the statistics of children that had seen a gun and been taught about gun safety, had been victimized by or involved with guns, and the racial/ethnic, age, and sex differences in children’s experience with firearms.


Date Published: July 1, 2022