Gang association,

Article Review

Forster, M., Grigsby, T. J., Unger, J. B., &Sussman, S. (2015). Associations between gun violence exposure, gang associations, and youth aggression: Implications for prevention and intervention programs. Journal of criminology2015.

Summary

Forster, Grigsby, Unger and Sussman (2015) conducted a study that investigated the link between gang association, exposure to neighborhood violence and social self control to incidences of aggression at school. The study collected data from minority youths from three Southeast Los Angeles schools. In the literature review, the authors show that aggression is a serious problem in schools. According to Forster et al (2015), over 600,000 teenagers reported assault related injuries annually, in addition, between 20 and 40 percent of school going students had experienced a bullying incident at school. The literature review also revealed that between 700,000 and 1,000,000 teenagers were members of gangs. Past studies have shown that exposure and association to gangs, affiliation with delinquent peers, and family processes are indicators of violence perpetration and victimization. To investigate the link between the variables, the study sampled 77 female and 87 male 7th and 8th graders in three South Los Angeles middle schools. Questionnaires were used to collect data on substance abuse, demographics, social self-control, and family and peer gang association, neighborhood violence and self-reported aggression. The study reported that teenagers with high levels of social self-control were less likely to be involved in past week aggressive episodes. Students with friends who were members of gangs reported 91 per cent higher incidents of aggressive episodes. For girls, aggression was 46 per cent higher if the family was affiliated to gangs. Exposure and fear of gun violence also increased the incidence of aggressive episodes by 26 per cent. According to the study, students were most likely to be involved in aggressive incidents if they were male, had friends associated with gangs, and had low levels of social self-control.

Critique

Forster, Grigsby, Unger and Sussman (2015) is useful study as it explores an area of research where there exist little empirical evidence to link the variables. It is worthwhile to note that the research provides an insightful background on the teenage and school violence. The author then seeks to investigate the factors that lead to high rates of aggression among teenagers and school going students. Unfortunately, the research only sampled 164 students which is a small sample to facilitate the generalization of the results of the study to the general population. In addition, the study was conducted in only three schools in the South Los Angeles area where gang violence and gun crime is common (Forster et al, 2015). It is obvious that teenage aggression in other areas may be driven by other factors apart from association with gangs and exposure to gun violence. However, the results than link social self-control to lower levels of self-reported aggression can be generalizable to other student populations. Using self-reported measures is also a major weakness of the study as the students may fail to report honestly on most of the data collected. Observation would have been a better option for collecting the data on past week aggression as opposed to self-reported measures of aggression. Using observation, the researcher would have been able to see and record incidents of aggression rather than hear about them from the participants. The study rightly concludes that school based interventions can be used to disrupt the development of aggressive behavior. School based programs can help indeed help in the development of social self-control which has an inverse relationship with the development of aggressive behavior.

Application

Forster et al (2015) is a very useful study in research on teenage violence, and associated the associated study areas. The study provides valuable statistics on the state of teenage violence indicating that more than 600,000 school age children report aggression related injuries every year. The study helps to illustrate that teenage violence is a serious problem affecting many school going children and it is an area that warrants further research. Most importantly, the research identifies some of the factors that are predictors of teenage violence perpetration or victimization. The study reveals that association with gangs and gang members is a contributing factor to aggressiveness among teenagers. Other impacts of gang association such as the tendency to use substances and other truant behaviors can also be investigated in future studies in the area. The study also reports an inverse relationship between social self-control and incidents of teenage aggression. Further studies also need to be conducted to establish whether self-control can decrease aggression among teenagers who associate with gangs, and have been exposed to gun violence. The study also indicates that self-reported measures of aggression were limitations of the study, and thus another method of data collection like observation can be used for future studies. The study design also provides a research model that can be expanded for future research in the area of teenage truancy and violence. The research sample for future research on the topic can be expanded to more schools from more heterogeneous school districts to ensure the results can be generalized. Therefore, Forster (2015) is an important research article that provides preliminary evidence linking association with gangs, social self control, and family association with gangs with teenage violence perpetuation. Most importantly, the study establishes several directions for future research in the area.

References

Forster, M., Grigsby, T. J., Unger, J. B., & Sussman, S. (2015). Associations between gun violence exposure, gang associations, and youth aggression: Implications for prevention and intervention programs. Journal of criminology2015.

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