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Distinguishing Between-Individual From Within-Individual Predictors of Gun Carrying Among Black and White Males Across Adolescence

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: 2019 Pages: 144-155
Meagan Docherty; Jordan Beardslee; Kevin J. Grimm; Dustin Pardini
Date Published
12 pages
Although longitudinal studies have found that male adolescents who deal drugs, associate with delinquent peers, and engage in aggressive behavior are at increased risk for carrying a gun (between-individual risks), it is unclear whether changes in these risk factors help to explain fluctuations in youth gun-carrying across adolescence (within-individual risks), so the current study examined this issue using a community sample of 970 adolescent males (58 percent Black, 42 percent White) assessed annually from ages 14 to 18.
Multilevel models examined the extent to which between-individual differences and within-individual changes in drug dealing, peer delinquency, aggressive behavior, and neighborhood disadvantage were associated with gun-carrying across adolescence. Each of these predictors, except for disadvantage, exerted a between-individual and within-individual influence for Black youth. For White youth, drug dealing was significant on both levels, peer delinquency was a significant between-individual predictor, and aggression was a significant within-individual predictor. Neighborhood disadvantage did not significantly predict gun-carrying in the model, on either the between- or within-individual level, for Black or White youth. These results emphasize the importance of examining race-specific predictors of gun-carrying among Black and White adolescents and point to drug dealing as a robust predictor of gun-carrying, at both the between-individual and within-individual levels for youth of either race. Efforts to prevent drug-market involvement and reduce aggressive behaviors in adolescence may in turn prove useful for preventing firearm violence. (publisher abstract modified)