Analyzing the immediate neighborhood surroundings of teenaged homicide victims, Philadelphia researchers found that neglected conditions — vacant lots, poor street lighting, fewer parks and less-traveled thoroughfares — were in much greater abundance compared to neighborhoods where adolescents were safer. Without attributing cause and effect, the new study adds to previous research suggesting that modifying specific outdoor features with low-cost improvements may foster community interaction and potentially reduce youth violence in cities.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/2565207319 Garry Knight Homeless In Clink Street
A couple walk past a young homeless man in London’s Clink Street.
“Homicide is a leading cause of death in U.S. adolescents and young adults, especially among African Americans, but the factors influencing violence are complex,” said corresponding author Alison J. Culyba, MD, MPH, an adolescent medicine specialist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “Large-scale violence-prevention programs addressing poverty and educational disparities are absolutely necessary, but may require long-term investment to yield results. We focused on a different level — modifiable features of the built environment that might be factors in violence risk.”
Culyba and her CHOP co-authors collaborated with researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by epidemiologist Charles C. Branas, PhD, the senior author and director of the Penn Injury Science Center.
“One theory that resonated with a lot of the things we found points to the importance of busy streets in promoting outdoor activity, interaction and cohesion in communities, which could potentially deter street violence,” said Branas, who has led several previous studies suggesting that urban parks and greening vacant lots encourage people to become invested in maintaining their neighborhoods and may reduce violent crime.
Both Culyba and Branas stress that this study does not show that street features and other elements cause or reduce homicide. Rather, they say, street lighting, pedestrian infrastructure, public transit, parks and vacant lot greening may be promising targets for future research to discover whether such interventions may provide social and health benefits.
Young men who are gang members suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services, according to new research led by Queen Mary, University of London.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Maurice & Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust funded study surveyed 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain. The survey covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. It is the first time research has looked into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse.
In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men.
Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimisation and fear of further victimisation were significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members.
The findings showed that, of the 108 gang members surveyed:
- 85.8 per cent had an antisocial personality disorder;
- Two-thirds were alcohol dependent;
- 25.1 per cent screened positive for psychosis;
- More than half (57.4 per cent) were drug dependent;
- Around a third (34.2 per cent) had attempted suicide; and
- More than half (58.9 per cent) had an anxiety disorder.
The authors suggest that the higher rate of attempted suicide attempts among gang members may be associated with other psychiatric illness, but could also correspond with the notion that impulsive violence may be directed both outwardly and inwardly.
Street gangs are concentrated in inner urban areas characterised by socioeconomic deprivation, high crime rates and multiple social problems. The authors report that around one per cent of 18 to 34-year-old men in Britain are gang members. The level rises to 8.6 per cent in the London borough of Hackney, where one in five black men reported gang membership….
- Unprecedented Levels Of Psychiatric Illness Found In Gang Members (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Gang Members at an Increased Risk of Psychiatric Illnesses (counselheal.com)
- Most Gang Members Have a Diagnosable Mental Illness (motherboard.vice.com)
- Gang Members May Suffer From Unprecedented Illnesses (scienceworldreport.com)
- Gang Membership Tied To Mental Health Problems (medicalnewstoday.com)
New Jersey city copes with grinding reality of killing (National Catholic Reporter)
Two sentences really stood out…
“they realized that they had to replace a fundamental and often-asked question, “Why did you do that?” with another, “What happened to you?””
“Putthoff said that behavior that has protected the youth amid the effects of poverty and abuse — the knowledge of friends and families killed, mothers beaten and the constant threats of homelessness and hunger — doesn’t work in other surroundings.”
Homicides in Newark have spread through the city over the past 30 years like an infectious disease and can be tracked and treated like a public health issue with prevention, inoculation and treatment, according to a study by Michigan State University.
The study, among the first to track murder through the lens of medical research, is part of a widening trend among local leaders and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat violent crime like a medical condition.
Newark native Jesenia Pizarro and April Zeolis, professors of criminal justice at Michigan State, analyzed the 2,366 homicides that occurred in Newark between 1982 to 2008 and tracked how and where they spread throughout the city.
Their report, titled “Homicide as Infectious Disease,” said the clusters originated in the Central Ward and moved south and west. Like other diseases, homicide clusters have a source, a mode of transmission and…
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From the January 2012 Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical criminology article at http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/busslab/pdffiles/Evolutionary-psychology-and-crime.pdf
Evolutionary psychology provides a powerful set of tools for understanding human behavior, including criminal behavior and responses to criminal behavior. One set of tools entails furnishing hypotheses about the underlying psychological mechanisms that could plausibly be part of the causal chain leading to criminal behavior and responses to it. Because all psychological mechanisms require environmental input for their activation, these hypotheses include a specification of circumstances in which criminal behavior is likely to be enacted or inhibited. A somewhat different set of the tools, also potentially quite valuable, is that evolutionary psychology provides heuristic value, guiding criminologists to examine domains previously unexplored or to uncover elements in the causal chain that otherwise might be missed by existing criminology theories. By introducing evolutionary explanations, Durrant and Ward (this volume) provide a valuable service in opening the door for both sets of tools provides by evolutionary psychology in the understanding criminal behavior.
According to evolutionary psychology, all human behavior, criminal or otherwise, is a product of psychological mechanisms (instantiated in the brain) combined with environmental input that activates them or inhibits their activation. Consider calluses. Explanatory understanding the thickness and distribution of calluses on the human skin within individuals over time and across individuals and cultures at any point in time requires (1) knowledge that humans have evolved callus-producing adaptations whose proper function is to protect the underlying physiological and anatomical structures beneath the skin, and (2) knowledge that the environmental input of repeated friction to skin is required for activating the callus-producing mechanisms. Evolutionary psychology, in short, is fundamentally an interactionist framework.