Abstract: Violence Prevention Programs for Adolescents: A 15-Year Trend Study in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

297P Violence Prevention Programs for Adolescents: A 15-Year Trend Study in the United States

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Millan A. AbiNader, MSW, PhD Candidate, Boston University, Boston, MA
Michael Vaughn, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Sehun Oh, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Christopher Salas-Wright, PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background: While recent evidence suggests a downward trend in many problem behaviors among youth including violence, relatively little is known regarding trends in youth participation in violence prevention programming. Accordingly, the present study aimed to better understand trends and correlates in youth participation in violence prevention programs and potential differences among subgroups by examining participation in a nationally representative sample. Methods: Using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, adolescent (ages 12-17) participation in violence prevention programs was examined from 2002 to 2016. Analyses were conducted with the sample as well as across sex (male, female) and racial/ethnic (non-Hispanic White, Black/African American, Hispanic) subgroups. Annual rates of participation were estimated and tests of trend were conducted to determine if the prevalence of adolescent participation changed over time. Additionally, we used binomial logistic regression analysis to assess the association between key psychosocial and behavioral risk correlates and program participation when controlling for sociodemographic variables. Results: Youth participation in violence prevention programs decreased significantly from 16.75% in 2002 to 12.08% in 2016 (AOR = 0.971, 95% CI = 0 .968-0.965), representing a 28% decrease in the relative proportion of youth participants during a 15-year period. This downward trend was observed across gender and racial/ethnic subgroups and when controlling for key psychosocial (e.g., youth risk propensity, parental affirmation) and risk behavioral (e.g., fighting, theft) correlates. We also found that youth reporting greater levels of psychosocial protection, such as greater school engagement, were more likely to participate in programs. Additionally, youth reporting involvement in violence and delinquency were more likely to report participation in a violence prevention program. While all racial groups participated in violence prevention programs, Black youth had higher annual participation rates than White and Hispanic youth. There were some differences found among correlates of participation across racial/ethnic groups: for example, a lower grade average was associated with a decreased odds of participation among White youth. Conclusions and Implications: Drawing from a large national sample of youth, we found clear and compelling results that rates of adolescent participation in violence prevention programs declined between 2002 and 2016. This pattern was observed among male and female youth and among non-Hispanic White, Black/African American, and Hispanic youth. This downward trend is convergent with previous trend studies indicating declines in youth violence and other externalizing problems over the last several decades. We found that the likelihood of participation is greatest among adolescents with [1] myriad prosocial supports (and may have higher levels of participation in youth programing in general) and [2] among youth involved in violence/delinquency and the criminal justice system (and may be mandated into prevention programming). Future research could further investigate youth motivation to participate in programming to better explain this trend. Some behaviors appear to differentially affect racial/ethnic subgroup participation in violence prevention programs. Further research should examine the unique structural factors that might account for said differences, such as program accessibility. This study adds to the growing body of research that indicates decreased youth violence in recent years.