Methods: This study was a secondary quantitative data analysis of the 2018 Arizona Youth Survey. The data was collected from fifteen counties across 246 schools in Arizona. Participants (n = 49,009) were in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade. Descriptive statistics were run for all variables under consideration. An ordinary least squares regression was then conducted to examine the relationship between youth violent behaviors and perceived neighborhood safety and attachment while controlling for demographic factors at the individual, familial and household, school, and peer levels.
Results: Youth’s perceived neighborhood safety and attachment was a significant predictor of violent behaviors. Higher youth violent behavior scores were associated with lower scores on the neighborhood safety and attachment scale. Or, other things being equal, every one unit increase in neighborhood safety and attachment scores was associated with a .029 decrease in youth violent behavior scores.
Conclusions/Implications: Social worker researchers should engage youth and adults in communities via community based participatory research (CBPR). Individuals residing in communities with higher prevalence of youth violence can define for themselves what youth violence encompasses, identify risk and protective factors in their community, and provide suggestions for addressing and preventing youth violence using the CBRP approach. Furthermore, social workers should strive to foster partnerships/relationships between community members and agencies that can provide support services to families and youth. Several risk factors that contribute to youth violence have been identified in this study. If social workers link community members to agencies that can address specific risk factors, such as after school programs for youth as a means to prevent gang involvement/affiliation, communities could see a positive change and decline in youth violent behaviors.