226698 Youth Violence in High-Risk Communities in Puerto Rico: A Qualitative Approach

Monday, November 8, 2010

Juan Negron-Ayala, MPH, PhD , Department of Social Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus, Bayamón, PR
Juan C. Reyes-Pulliza, EdD, MS , Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR
Rafaela R. Robles, EdD , Addiction Training Center, Universidad Central del Caribe, Bayamon, PR
Introduction: A growing body of research shows that youth violence is becoming a critical public health problem. Understanding youth violence from a public health perspective demands a comprehensive approach that explores not only quantitative indicators of violence risk but also youth's perceptions and subjective experiences of this phenomenon. Objective: This study aims to explore how violence is perceived and experienced by adolescents living in high-risk communities in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Methods: Two focus groups (4 females and 5 males) and five semi-structured interviews (3 females and 2 males) with adolescents living in high-risk violence communities were conducted. Mean age for participants was 18 years old. Semi-structured interviewees were selected based on their violent behavior history whereas focus group participants were identified as resilient. Interviews focused on eliciting narratives on the experience and meanings ascribed to violence as victims, witnesses and/or perpetrators. Data was analyzed using a categorical-content approach with QSR NVivo and organized following a situational analysis framework. Results: Narratives portrayed the individual motivations that rationalized violent behavior, the peer-level conditions and the community context in which these behaviors are inscribed. Perceptions of violence and experience violence as perpetrators, victims and witness also emerged. Six major thematic domains emerged from participants' narratives: drug wars, fights and guns, couples and family violence, violence rationalization and resilience. Conclusions: Although perceived as a serious concern in their lives, violence is assumed as a customary element in their communities, fostering feelings of fatalism, hyper-vigilance, depression, and rationalization of violence as a defense mechanism.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how violence is defined, perceived and experienced among adolescents living in high-risk communities in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Keywords: Violence, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present becuase I counduct scientific research on adolescent preventionin Puerto Rico.
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.