Measuring Neighborhood Connection and the Association with Violence in Young Adolescents

Rachel Widome, Renee E. Sieving, Scott A. Harpin, Mary O. Hearst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: The objectives of this study were to construct measures of adolescent neighborhood connection and test the association of these measures with violence-related behaviors. Methods: This study uses data from the baseline Lead Peace-Plus evaluation survey completed by sixth-grade students (n = 118). The survey was conducted in Fall 2006 in four urban community schools with similar ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged student bodies. The survey instrument, tailored for adolescents, included questions about violence involvement in the past year, as well as youth perceptions of and interactions with others in their neighborhood. Exploratory factor analysis was employed to construct neighborhood connectedness scales. Mixed-model logistic regression was used to examine relationships of these scales with students' violent behaviors, adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity. Results: Exploratory factor analysis yielded two factors. The first factor, intention to contribute, was composed of five items (α = .86) that indicated whether adolescents value and intend to work to improve their neighborhoods. The factor, neighborhood social resources, was composed of eight items (α = .76) that reflected adolescents' familiarity with neighbors and perceptions that their neighbors could provide support. Students with lower levels of both neighborhood connection measures were more likely to report violent behaviors in the past year. However, the trends were statistically significant only for relationships between intention to contribute and violence indicators. Conclusions: Neighborhood connection can be measured with reliability in middle school students. Cultivating young adolescents' intentions to contribute to their neighborhoods may be an effective strategy for reducing youth violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-489
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by center funding for the Healthy Youth Development Prevention Research Center, cooperative agreement 1 U48 DP000063 -02 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and by a grant from the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. The authors would also like to thank Ms. Shari Plowman for coordination of data collection and Dr. Debbie Bernat for her collaboration designing the survey instrument.


  • Adolescent health
  • Neighborhood cohesion
  • Neighborhood connection
  • Violence


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