An ecological assessment of neighborhood, family, peer, and individual characteristics in predicting violence: a multilevel analysis of African-American families
This study used epidemic, cultural deviance, and social learning perspectives to examine the extent to which exposure to various forms of violence predicted violent behavior among 867 African-American youth. The study examined the following macro-level predictors of childhood violence: neighborhood violence, neighborhood SES, neighborhood subculture of violence, and percent African American. The following micro-level predictors were examined: street code, associating with violent peers, corporal punishment, parental violence, and warm/supportive parenting. Using hierarchical linear modeling techniques (HLM), the results showed that neighborhood SES was the only macro-level variable to exert a significant influence on violence. Furthermore, childhood violence was significantly related to street code, violent peers, parental violent behavior, and warm/supportive parenting. Overall, the results indicated that micro-level variables explained 27% of the variance, and macro-level variables explained an additional 3%. These findings demonstrate the importance of micro-level factors in predicting violence. It was concluded that simply living in a violent neighborhood does not produce violent children, but that family, peer, and individual characteristics at the micro-level play a large role in predicting violence in children.