184581 Association Between Perception of Danger and Weapon Brandishment Among Impoverished Adolescents

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Alexis Magdalene Inabinet, MA , Medical Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Maja Altarac, MD, MPH, PHD , Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birimingham, AL
John Bolland, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Background: Homicide continues to rank as the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Efforts should focus on diminishing weapon brandishment rates among young people. The current project explores how adolescents' perception of danger influences weapon brandishment rates.

Methods: The Mobile Youth Survey (MYS) is a community research project designed to determine decision making and subsequent health risk among adolescents living in extreme poverty. Perception of danger is measured by several questions involving feeling unsafe as well as feeling able to avoid violence. The responses of 2,335 adolescents that participated in the 2006 wave of the MYS were analyzed in order to identify if there is an association between perception of danger and carrying guns, or a blade (knives, and/or razors) in the past three months.

Results: In this sample 488 (20.9%) of adolescents reported carrying a knife and/or razor, and 388 (16.6%) reported carrying a gun in the past three months. Adolescents who believe that something bad might happen if a person does not carry a blade in their neighborhood were more than twice as likely to report carrying a blade (OR=2.14, 95% CI=1.72-2.66) or gun (OR=2.66, 95% CI=2.08-3.41) in the past three months, and adolescents who reported feeling unsafe in their neighborhood were 1.35 times more likely to carry a blade (95% CI=1.1-1.67), while controlling for age and gender.

Conclusions: Adolescents who felt unsafe were more likely to brandish weapons. Perception of danger plays a role in weapon brandishment and needs to be addressed in intervention programs.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: 1. Recognize the prevalence of weapon brandishment and related violence among impoverished communities. 2. Link perceptual markers associated with weapon carrying. 3. Discuss using perception of danger to target groups for intervention.

Keywords: Youth Violence, Poverty

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Maja Altarac, MD, PHD, MPH has supervised the first author on this as well as other research in the past.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.