Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center

Boston, MA, United States

Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center

Boston, MA, United States
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Duncan D.T.,Harvard University | Duncan D.T.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Hatzenbuehler M.L.,Columbia University | Johnson R.M.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center
Drug and Alcohol Dependence | Year: 2014

Objective: To investigate whether past-30 day illicit drug use among sexual minority youth was more common in neighborhoods with a greater prevalence of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT, or sexual minority) individuals. Methods: We used a population-based survey of public school youth in Boston, Massachusetts, consisting of 1292 9th-12th grade students from the 2008 Boston Youth Survey Geospatial Dataset (sexual minority n= 108). Data on LGBT hate crimes involving assaults or assaults and battery between 2005 and 2008 were obtained from the Boston Police Department and linked to youths' residential address. Youth reported past-30 day use of marijuana and other illicit drugs. Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests and corresponding p-values were computed to assess differences in substance use by neighborhood-level LGBT assault hate crime rate among sexual minority youth (n= 103). Results: The LGBT assault hate crime rate in the neighborhoods of sexual minority youth who reported current marijuana use was 23.7 per 100,000, compared to 12.9 per 100,000 for sexual minority youth who reported no marijuana use (p= 0.04). No associations between LGBT assault hate crimes and marijuana use among heterosexual youth (p>. 0.05) or between sexual minority marijuana use and overall neighborhood-level violent and property crimes (p>. 0.05) were detected, providing evidence for result specificity. Conclusions: We found a significantly greater prevalence of marijuana use among sexual minority youth in neighborhoods with a higher prevalence of LGBT assault hate crimes. These results suggest that neighborhood context (i.e., LGBT hate crimes) may contribute to sexual orientation disparities in marijuana use. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


PubMed | Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Second Street, Harvard University and Northeastern University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of community psychology | Year: 2014

There is an increased interest in how neighborhood social processes, such as collective efficacy, may protect mental health. Yet little is known about how stable these neighborhood processes are over time, or how to change them to influence other downstream factors. We used a population-based, repeat cross-sectional study of adults (n=5135) to assess stability of collective efficacy for families in 38 Boston neighborhoods across 4 years (2006, 2008, 2010) (the Boston Neighborhood Survey). We test temporal stability of collective efficacy for families across and within neighborhoods using 2-level random effects linear regression, fixed effects linear regression, T-tests, and Wilcoxon rank tests. Across the different methods, neighborhood collective efficacy for families remained stable across 4 years, after adjustment for neighborhood composition. If neighborhood collective efficacy is measured within 4 years of the exposure period of interest, assuming temporal stability may be valid.


Duncan D.T.,Harvard University | Duncan D.T.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Piras G.,West Virginia University | Dunn E.C.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | And 6 more authors.
Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology | Year: 2013

This study evaluated spatial relationships between features of the built environment and youth depressive symptoms. Data used in this study came from the 2008 Boston Youth Survey Geospatial Dataset, which includes Boston high school students with complete residential information (n= 1170). Features of the built environment (such as access to walking destinations and community design features) were created for 400- and 800-m street network buffers of the youths' residences. We computed standard Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression and spatial simultaneous autoregressive models. We found significant positive spatial autocorrelation in all of the built environment features at both spatial scales (all p= 0.001), depressive symptoms (p= 0.034) as well as in the OLS regression residuals (all p<. 0.001), and, therefore, fit spatial regression models. Findings from the spatial regression models indicate that the built environment can have depressogenic effects, which can vary by spatial scale, gender and race/ethnicity (though sometimes in unexpected directions, i.e. associations opposite to our expectations). While our results overall suggest that the built environment minimally influences youth depressive symptoms, additional research is needed, including to understand our results in the unexpected direction. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Duncan D.T.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Hatzenbuehler M.L.,Columbia University
American Journal of Public Health | Year: 2014

Objectives. We examined whether past-year suicidality among sexualminority adolescents was more common in neighborhoods with a higher prevalence of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Methods. Participants' data came from a racially/ethnically diverse population-based sample of 9th- through 12th-grade public school students in Boston, Massachusetts (n = 1292). Of these, 108 (8.36%) reported a minority sexual orientation. We obtained data on LGBT hate crimes involving assaults or assaults with battery between 2005 and 2008 from the Boston Police Department and linked the data to the adolescent's residential address. Results. Sexual-minority youths residing in neighborhoods with higher rates of LGBT assault hate crimes were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation (P = .013) and suicide attempts (P = .006), than were those residing in neighborhoods with lower LGBT assault hate crime rates. We observed no relationships between overall neighborhood-level violent and property crimes and suicidality among sexual-minority adolescents (P > .05), providing evidence for specificity of the results to LGBT assault hate crimes. Conclusions. Neighborhood context (i.e., LGBT hate crimes) may contribute to sexual-orientation disparities in adolescent suicidality, highlighting potential targets for community-level suicide-prevention programs.


PubMed | Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Harvard University and Columbia University
Type: | Journal: Drug and alcohol dependence | Year: 2014

To investigate whether past-30 day illicit drug use among sexual minority youth was more common in neighborhoods with a greater prevalence of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT, or sexual minority) individuals.We used a population-based survey of public school youth in Boston, Massachusetts, consisting of 1292 9th-12th grade students from the 2008 Boston Youth Survey Geospatial Dataset (sexual minority n=108). Data on LGBT hate crimes involving assaults or assaults and battery between 2005 and 2008 were obtained from the Boston Police Department and linked to youths residential address. Youth reported past-30 day use of marijuana and other illicit drugs. Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests and corresponding p-values were computed to assess differences in substance use by neighborhood-level LGBT assault hate crime rate among sexual minority youth (n=103).The LGBT assault hate crime rate in the neighborhoods of sexual minority youth who reported current marijuana use was 23.7 per 100,000, compared to 12.9 per 100,000 for sexual minority youth who reported no marijuana use (p=0.04). No associations between LGBT assault hate crimes and marijuana use among heterosexual youth (p>0.05) or between sexual minority marijuana use and overall neighborhood-level violent and property crimes (p>0.05) were detected, providing evidence for result specificity.We found a significantly greater prevalence of marijuana use among sexual minority youth in neighborhoods with a higher prevalence of LGBT assault hate crimes. These results suggest that neighborhood context (i.e., LGBT hate crimes) may contribute to sexual orientation disparities in marijuana use.


Hepburn L.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Hepburn L.,Harvard University | Azrael D.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Azrael D.,Harvard University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Adolescent Health | Year: 2012

Purpose: To determine whether involvement in bullying as a perpetrator, victim, or both victim and perpetrator (victim-perpetrator) was associated with a higher risk of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts among a multiethnic urban high school population in the United States. Methods: In 2008, a total of 1,838 youth in 9th-12th grades attending public high school in Boston, MA, completed an in-school, self-reported survey of health-related behaviors. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the relationship between bullying behaviors and self-reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempts within the 12 months preceding the survey. Results: Students who reported having been involved in bullying as a perpetrator, victim, or victim-perpetrator were more likely than those who had not been involved in bullying to report having seriously considered or attempted suicide within the past year. When age, race/ethnicity, and gender were controlled, students who were victim-perpetrators of bullying were at highest risk for both suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. Conclusions: Urban youth who have been bullied as well as those who have bullied others are at increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. © 2012 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. All rights reserved.


Hemenway D.,Harvard University | Vriniotis M.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Johnson R.M.,Boston University | Miller M.,Harvard University | Azrael D.,Harvard University
Journal of Adolescence | Year: 2011

This paper investigates: (1) whether high school students overestimate gun carrying by their peers, and (2) whether those students who overestimate peer gun carrying are more likely to carry firearms. Data come from a randomly sampled survey conducted in 2008 of over 1700 high school students in Boston, MA. Over 5% of students reported carrying a gun, 9% of boys and 2% of girls. Students substantially overestimated the percentage of their peers who carried guns; the likelihood that a respondent carried a gun was strongly associated with their perception of the level of peer gun carrying. Most respondents believed it was easier for other youth to obtain guns than it was for them. Social marketing campaigns designed to lower young people's perceptions about the prevalence of peer gun carrying may be a promising strategy for reducing actual gun carrying among youth. © 2010 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents.


Green J.G.,Boston University | Dunn E.C.,Human Development and Health | Johnson R.M.,Boston University | Molnar B.E.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center
Journal of School Violence | Year: 2011

Although researchers have identified individual-level predictors of nonphysical bullying among children and youth, school-level predictors (i.e., characteristics of the school environment that influence bullying exposure) remain largely unstudied. Using data from a survey of 1,838 students in 21 Boston public high schools, we used multilevel modeling techniques to estimate the level of variation across schools in student reports of nonphysical bully victimization and identify school-level predictors of bullying. We found significant between-school variation in youth reports of nonphysical bullying, with estimates ranging from 25%-58%. We tested school-level indicators of academic performance, emotional well-being, and school safety. After controlling for individual-level covariates and demographic controls, the percentage of students in the school who met with a mental health counselor was significantly associated with bullying (OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 1.01, 1.06). There was no significant association between school-level academic performance and perceptions of school safety on individual reports of bullying. Findings suggest that prevention and intervention programs may benefit from attending to the emotional well-being of students and support the importance of understanding the role of the school environment in shaping student experiences with bullying. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Johnson R.M.,Boston University | Johnson R.M.,Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center | Kidd J.D.,Boston University | Dunn E.C.,Human Development and Health | And 3 more authors.
Journal of School Violence | Year: 2011

Although sexual minority (SM) youth are at an increased risk for being bullied and experiencing depression, it is unclear how caregiver support is interrelated with those variables. Therefore, we sought to assess (a) the prevalence of nonphysical bullying, depressive symptomatology, and caregiver support among heterosexual and SM girls, (b) the association between caregiver support and bullying in both groups, and (c) whether sexual orientation moderates the interactive effect of caregiver support and bullying on depressive symptoms. Data come from a survey of students in 22 Boston public high schools; 99 of the 832 girls in the analytic sample were SM. We used chi-square statistics to examine group differences, and multiple regression to estimate the association between the caregiver support, sexual orientation, being bullied, and depressive symptomatology. SM girls reported similar levels of caregiver support as heterosexual girls, but reported higher levels of depressive symptomatology. They were also more likely to report nonphysical bullying. Tests for interactions were not statistically significant, suggesting that bullying, caregiver support, and sexual orientation are independently associated with depressive symptomatology. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Rothman E.F.,Boston University | Johnson R.M.,Boston University | Young R.,Boston University | Weinberg J.,Boston University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Urban Health | Year: 2011

Neighborhood-level characteristics have been found to be associated with different forms of interpersonal violence, but studies of the relationship between these characteristics and adolescent dating violence are limited. We examined 6 neighborhood-level factors in relation to adolescent physical dating violence perpetration using both adolescent and adult assessments of neighborhood characteristics, each of which was aggregated across respondents to the neighborhood level. Data came from an in-school survey of 1,530 public high school students and a random-digit-dial telephone survey of 1,710 adult residents of 38 neighborhoods in Boston. Approximately 14.3% of the youth sample reported one or more acts of physical aggression toward a dating partner in the month preceding the survey. We calculated the odds of past-month physical dating violence by each neighborhood-level factor, adjusting for school clustering, gender, race, and nativity. In our first 6 models, we used the adolescent assessment of neighborhood factors and then repeated our procedures using the adult assessment data. Using the adolescent assessment data, lower collective efficacy (AOR=1.95, 95% CI= 1.09-3.52), lower social control (AOR=1.92, 95% CI=1.07-3.43), and neighborhood disorder (AOR=1.19, 95% CI=1.05-1.35) were each associated with increased likelihood of physical dating violence perpetration. However, when we used the adult version of the neighborhood assessment data, no neighborhood factor predicted dating violence. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed. © 2011 The New York Academy of Medicine.

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