Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Texas at Dallas
- Risk and protective factors for weapon-related behaviors vary by race.
- Emotional distress and substance use are predictors of weapon-related behaviors in all youth groups regardless of race.
- For white and African American teens, violence exposure and peer delinquency were additional risks.
- Gun availability in the household was a risk for African American teens only.
- Educational aspirations were protective factors for both African American and Latino teens.
- Family connectedness was a protective factor for Latino teens only.
In the study, “Predictors of Weapon-Related Behaviors among African American, Latino, and White Youth,” Boots and her co-authors set out to determine behaviors teens engage in that lead to weapon-related behaviors. These behaviors are categorized as weapon carrying, pulling out a gun/knife, or shooting/stabbing someone within the past year. To conduct this study, the researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative study of 7-12 graders and analyzed by the subsample of race. The results showed that after adjusting for individual, peer, family, and community characteristics, race plays a large role in determining weapon-related behaviors. Risk factors for white teens included violence and peer delinquency. The same risk factors were noted for African American teens as well as gun availability. African American teens had protective factors in education aspirations. Latino teens were also protected by educational aspirations and also had an additional protective factor in family connectedness.