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How Families and Communities Influence Youth Victimization

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2003
12 pages
This bulletin draws on National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data to examine the relationship between family and community characteristics and violent victimization among youth in the United States.
Recent trends in criminal justice have focused fresh light on the plight of victims, rather than focusing solely on criminal behavior and offenders. However, until recently there was scant data available to enable an examination of how family and community characteristics affect violent victimization among the Nation's 12- to 17-year-old youth. The author outlines the purpose and methodology of the NCVS and then uses data extracted from the survey’s dataset to explore trends in violent victimization among youth. Results of statistical analyses reveal that youth who live in single-parent homes are at a significantly higher risk for violence than their counterparts who live in two-parent homes. Moreover, youth who live in single-parent homes are approximately twice as likely to become victims of violence in their own neighborhoods. Overall, youth who live in single-parent homes have three times the risk for violent victimization than the average American. This relationship holds true for stranger and non-stranger violence. The article also explores the relationship between community type and risk for violent victimization and between race/ethnicity and violent victimization. Findings indicate that there is a relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and neighborhood violence. A complex relationship was discovered between race and violent victimization, with differences emerging primarily with regard to stranger violence. These findings suggest that greater resources and criminal justice policy should be focused on youth who live in single-parent homes in an effort to reduce violent victimization among this group. Tables, references

Date Published: November 1, 2003