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Clarifying the Effects of Neighborhood Context on Violence "Behind Closed Doors"

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 28 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2011 Pages: 775-798
Emily M. Wright; Michael L. Benson
Date Published
October 2011
24 pages
This study examined the linkages between communities and crime, specifically intimate partner violence (IPV).
Research on neighborhood-level effects on intimate partner violence (IPV) has expanded significantly in the past two decades. However, to date, studies have been unable to disentangle compositional and contextual effects on IPV and have rarely considered the social mechanisms that might link neighborhood conditions to IPV. Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, this study considers individual and contextual influences on violence between partners, and examines the effects of disadvantage and collective efficacy on this type of behavior. Results indicate that neighborhood disadvantage significantly increases and collective efficacy significantly decreases IPV after controlling for individual-level correlates. The study findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that as with street crime, neighborhood disadvantage also exacerbates rates of IPV. However, unlike street crime, the impact of disadvantage on IPV does not appear to be mediated by collective efficacy. Understanding how collective efficacy affects violence between partners remains an open issue. (Published Abstract)