Abstract: Understanding Relationships between Organized Youth Activities and Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Understanding Relationships between Organized Youth Activities and Violence

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Mohammad Mostafizur Rahman Khan, MSW, Doctoral Student, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
Md. Hasan Reza, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University, South Bend, IN
Shirin Sultana, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, State University of New York College at Brockport, Brockport, NY
Background and Purpose: Millions of youth in the US participate in many forms of organized school, community, and faith-based activities for growth and development. Example of school-based activities include team sports, cheerleading, choir, band; community-based activities include community service, youth clubs; and faith-based activities include Sunday schools, trips, and similar activities. Participation in these activities have a strong association with youth internalizing and externalizing behavior. Literature suggests that youth who participate in organized activities may adopt positive behavior as they are engaged in constructive developmental activities (Eisman, 2016). In contrast, youth who are either inactive or deprived from such participation may use their time negatively resulting in violent behavior. This debate leads to an important question: Is there any relationship between organized activities and anti-social behavior? This paper sheds light on this issue by exploring relationship between organized youth activities and violent behavior.

Methods: The paper analyses the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2017 (NSDUH-2017) dataset. The population of the survey included youth ages between 12 and 17 years. From a total of 56,276, the current paper used a subsample of 16,877 youth participants. Data collected for the NSDUH were based on different demographic and geographic characteristics that include age, gender, Hispanic origin, race, geographic region etc. A binary level logistic regression was used to analyze the relationship between youth violence (youth got into serious fight at school or work during the past 12 months) and organized activities (i.e. school-, community-, and faith-based activities).

Results: Findings revealed that about 16, 24, and 41 percent of youth did not take part in any school, community, or faith-based activities, respectively. On the other hand, about 25, 26, and 23 percent of youth took part one time, and rest of the youth took part two or more times in school-, community-, and faith-based activities, respectively. About 18 percent of youth had taken part in a serious fight during the past 12 months. Results of the binary logistic regression indicated a significant association between youth violence (serious fight at school or work) and community-based activities (χ2 (3) = 13.431, p < .04) indicating that youth who participated in community-based activities were less likely to get into a serious fight. Even though association between youth violence and faith-based activities (p <.06) and school-based activities (p <.18) were not significant, however, it showed that one unit increase in community-based activities facilitates decrease of .053 unit of youth violence. Likewise, one unit increase in school-based activities facilitates the decrease of .035 unit of youth violence.

Conclusions and Implications: Different organized activities have a different level of relationship with youth violence, and not all the organized activities have a significant relationship. Since community-based activities showed a significant inverse association with youth violence, there should have more research focused on type of community-based activities that directly decrease youths’ participation in violence. This finding may also help identify appropriate interventions to decrease youths’ participation in violent activities.