Understanding youth violence: The mediating effects of gender, poverty and vulnerability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article aims to improve understanding of youth violence in the early teenage years. Drawing on evidence from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (a prospective longitudinal programme of research tracking the lives of around 4,300 young people), it explores the mediating effects of gender and poverty in the presence of various risk and protective measures. Our findings show that violence is strongly associated with gender and poverty at both the household and neighbourhood levels. These relationships remain even when controlling for indicators of risk and protection linked to victimization, and relationships between children, their care-givers, and school. The findings provide further support for our theory of ‘negotiated order’, which posits that formal and informal regulatory orders play a key role in the development, and sustaining of offender identities (McAra and McVie 2012). They highlight the ways in which violence becomes a resource for the disempowered to negotiate such pathways, gaining status and a sense of self-worth through violent encounters. We conclude that violence reduction is best effected by: support for victims, enhancing parenting skills, transforming school-curricula, and tackling poverty. Above all, young people involved in violence should be conceptualised as vulnerable children rather than offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-77
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Early online date19 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • violence
  • victimization
  • vulnerability
  • poverty
  • gender
  • youth


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