Examining youth hopelessness as an independent risk correlate for adolescent delinquency and violence

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Abstract

Prior research has identified a relationship between youth hopelessness and violence perpetration within specific groups of young people. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between youth hopelessness and violence perpetration in a population-based sample of adolescents. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of data from 136,549 students in the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades responding to the 2007 Minnesota Student Survey. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between hopelessness and youth violence perpetration, including comparison analyses for gender and race/ethnic subgroups as well as adjustment for a measure of poor-low affect. One in four youth (25.1%) reported levels of hopelessness at least enough to bother them in the previous month. Moderate-high levels of hopelessness exhibited a statistically significant independent relationship with a range of violence-related outcomes for youth subgroups: delinquent behavior, weapon carrying on school property, and all forms of self-directed violence. Relationships between hopelessness and interpersonal and intimate partner violence suggest a greater contribution by poor affective functioning for some groups. Interventions designed to reduce youth violence perpetration may benefit from increased strategies to address youth hopelessness as well as youth mental health in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This journal article was supported in part by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant number T01-DP000112 (PI: Bearinger) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. The Minnesota Student Survey is provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and managed by the Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team 2007. The MSS 2007 Interagency Team consisted of members from the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, Human Services and Public Safety.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Hopelessness
  • Mental health
  • Violence perpetration
  • Youth

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