There has been an acknowledgment that violence is not just a crime problem, but that it is also an important public health problem. Evidence strongly suggests that violence committed by youth is on the rise, that drug use is prevalent among serious youth offenders, and that drugs may play a key role in youth violence toward others. Yet studies are just now beginning to examine the relationships between drugs and youth violence, and to explicate the role of critical social and interpersonal influences on these drugs-violence relationships. Even in current studies, however, there is little or no exploration of how """"""""violent"""""""" and """"""""nonviolent"""""""" youth offenders are similar or different in terms of the nature of their past involvement with drugs and other illegal activities. The primary purpose of the proposed research is to gain insight into the link between drug use and trafficking and violence committed by youth. The proposed study builds upon the procedures and findings developed by the research team in prior studies. Youth who have been remanded to the care and custody of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice (DD) for either a violent or a nonviolent offense will be interviewed, focusing on: subjects' prior involvement in drug use, violence and crime; peer relations, including gangs; exposure to trauma and violence as both victim and witness; availability, use, and ownership of guns; and characteristics of the family and community in which he/she grew up. A detailed account of the violent or nonviolent crime for which the youth was remanded to DJJ custody, including any drug relatedness, will also be obtained during interviewing. To explore some of the consequences of the drugs-violence nexus, the research will also assess its affect on subjects' perceived risk of future events, such as contracting HIV. In addition, official record data from DJJ will be acquired and used in analyses. The research employs a tripartite model of the general relationship between drugs and violence, which allows patterns to emerge reflecting the specific connections between drug use and trafficking and violence among youth. Knowledge gained on this project will generate recommendations for program and policy initiatives, and intervention approaches, for drug and violence prevention for youth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
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Mills, Arnold
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National Development & Research Institutes
New York
United States
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