violence and social self control

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 criminology, 2015.

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 7 th and 8 th 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

Running Head: ARTICLE REVIEW 2
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.

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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.

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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 criminology, 2015.

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