The Direct and Indirect Associations between Childhood Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Adolescent Gun Violence

Jordan Beardslee, Meagan Docherty, Edward Mulvey, Dustin Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined whether childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with adolescent gun violence and whether early symptoms of conduct disorder and/or exposure to delinquent peers accounted for the linkage. Participants were 503 predominately Black and White boys who were recruited in 1st grade from Pittsburgh public schools. Multi-informant assessments were conducted regularly from approximately ages 7 to 20. A latent socioeconomic disadvantage factor was estimated with census-tract and parent-reported data when boys were about age 7½. Latent growth curve models assessed parent/teacher-reported conduct problems and youth-reported peer delinquency from about ages 7½ to 10. The outcome was youth-reported engagement in gun violence by about age 20. We also controlled for race. Analyses examined whether the association between childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and adolescent gun violence was mediated through early conduct problems and/or increased exposure to delinquent peers. Childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with adolescent gun violence, and some of this effect was mediated through peer delinquency and conduct problems. Specifically, childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with greater affiliation with delinquent peers in early childhood, and early peer delinquency promoted a greater increase in conduct problems across childhood, and these conduct problems, in turn, led to an increased risk for adolescent gun violence. In summary, this study found that early socioeconomic disadvantage was directly and indirectly related to adolescent gun violence. Results suggest that interventions that aim to reduce conduct problems and deviant peer group affiliation in childhood might be important windows of opportunity for reducing gun violence in impoverished neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Firearms
Violence
Peer Group
Conduct Disorder
Censuses
Growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "We examined whether childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with adolescent gun violence and whether early symptoms of conduct disorder and/or exposure to delinquent peers accounted for the linkage. Participants were 503 predominately Black and White boys who were recruited in 1st grade from Pittsburgh public schools. Multi-informant assessments were conducted regularly from approximately ages 7 to 20. A latent socioeconomic disadvantage factor was estimated with census-tract and parent-reported data when boys were about age 7½. Latent growth curve models assessed parent/teacher-reported conduct problems and youth-reported peer delinquency from about ages 7½ to 10. The outcome was youth-reported engagement in gun violence by about age 20. We also controlled for race. Analyses examined whether the association between childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and adolescent gun violence was mediated through early conduct problems and/or increased exposure to delinquent peers. Childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with adolescent gun violence, and some of this effect was mediated through peer delinquency and conduct problems. Specifically, childhood socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with greater affiliation with delinquent peers in early childhood, and early peer delinquency promoted a greater increase in conduct problems across childhood, and these conduct problems, in turn, led to an increased risk for adolescent gun violence. In summary, this study found that early socioeconomic disadvantage was directly and indirectly related to adolescent gun violence. Results suggest that interventions that aim to reduce conduct problems and deviant peer group affiliation in childhood might be important windows of opportunity for reducing gun violence in impoverished neighborhoods.",
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