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Youth Violence and Victimization: Predicting Responses to Peer Aggression

NCJ Number
Date Published
23 pages

This research on youth violence focuses on factors and contexts that robustly predict the perpetration and amelioration of violence among youth that have received little attention in previous research.


This research identifies factors within individuals that include cognition (e.g., attitudes toward retaliation and bystander intervention) and social-emotional adjustment (e.g., rejection sensitivity, affect, aggressive behavior, and victimization). The multiple contexts in which violence occurs are identified and examined, including peer interactions and status, the dynamics of interactions at school, and family influences. Further, the research uses variable-oriented analyses, along with complementary person-oriented analyses that may provide additional insight into youth violence. The research intends to clarify the characteristics of youth who are likely to respond in violent ways under perceived threat as well as those characteristics of youth who react to protect others who are being victimized. The research involved a longitudinal study with sixth-graders (ages 11-12 years old) and ninth-graders (ages 14-15 years old) in the fall of 2017 (October and November) and the spring of 2018 (May). There were 867 participants on time one and 573 and time two. Participants attended three middle schools and two high schools in rural middle-to-low-income Southeastern U.S. school districts. The data collection procedure is described. The general conclusion of the research is that youth rejected aggression and hoped to intervene to protect victims; however, the research also identified important predictors of such behavior, including having the trait of empathy and feeling their response would have family and school support. This suggests the importance of family and school attention to the promulgation of nonviolent behavioral values and supportive action to prevent violent victimization. 4 tables and 27 references

Date Published: January 1, 2020