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Violent Lives: A Lifestyle Model Linking Exposure to Violence to Juvenile Violent Offending

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 42 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2005 Pages: 3-26
Date Published
February 2005
24 pages

Using data from the National Survey of Adolescents (NSA), a nationally representative sample (n=4,023) of juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17, this study examined the relationship between various types of exposure to violence and the commission of violent crimes.


The variables selected from the NSA survey pertained to demographic characteristics, exposure to violence, and violent offending. Demographic variables addressed age, sex, race, family income, family structure, and the type of community in which the family lived. The measure of exposure to violence focused on peer violence, witnessing violence, and personal violent victimization. Violent offending was measured by affirmative answers to any of four questions that assessed the respondent's involvement as an offender in violent acts. Logistic-regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship between lifestyles of violence and violent offending. The study found that all three measures of violent lifestyles significantly increased the risk for offending; however, simply measuring exposure to violent experiences was less useful for predicting offending than the frequency of exposure and the types of victimization. The findings provide support for a lifestyle model of juvenile violent offending. Lifestyle predicts both the associations one has and the level of exposure to violence that in turn affect victimization. This article discusses how the level of exposure to violence in one's daily life can be linked to violent behavior, such as reinforcing the belief that violence is a common and appropriate behavior for resolving a conflict. 3 tables, 46 references, and appended survey items and frequency for measuring exposure to violence

Date Published: February 1, 2005