of drugs (substance abuse). The more easily available that drugs and alcohol are
in a community, the greater the risk that drug abuse will occur in that
community (Gorsuch and Butler, 1976). Perceived availability of drugs in school
is also associated with increases risk (Gottfredson, 1988).
of firearms (delinquency, violence). Firearms, primarily handguns, are the
leading mechanism of violent injury and death in the United States (Fingerhut,
Kleinman, Godfey, and Rosenberg, 1991). The easy availability of firearms in a
community can escalate an exchange of angry words and fists into an exchange of
gunfire. Research has found that communities with greater availability of
firearms experience higher rates of violent crime, including homicide
(Alexander, Massey, Gibbs, Alterkruse, 1985; Kellerman, Rivara, Rushforth, et
al., in review; Winternute, 1987).
laws and norms favoring drug use, firearms, and crime (substance abuse,
delinquency, and violence). Community norms - the attitudes and policies a
community holds concerning drug use, violence, and crime - are communicated
through laws, written policies, informal social practices, the media and the
expectations that parents, teachers, and other members of the community have for
young people. Laws, tax rates, and community standards that favor or are unclear
about substance abuse or crime put young people at higher risk of delinquency.
example of a law affecting drug use is the taxation of alcoholic beverages.
Higher rates of taxation decrease the rate of alcohol use (Levy and Sheflin,
1985; Cook and Tauchen, 1982). Other examples of local rules and norms affecting
drug and alcohol use are policies and regulations in schools and workplaces.
portrayal of violence (violence). There is growing evidence that media violence
can influence community acceptance of violence and rates of violent or
aggressive behavior. Both long- and short-term effects of media violence on
aggressive behavior have been documented (Eron and Huesmann, 1987; National
Research Council, 1993).
and mobility (substance abuse, delinquency, and school dropout). Even normal
school transitions can predict increases in problem behaviors. When children
move from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high
school, significant increases in the rates of drug use, school dropout, and
antisocial behavior may occur (Gottfredson, 1988).
with high rates of mobility appear to have increased drug and crime problems.
The more frequently people in a community move, the greater the risk of criminal
behavior (Farrington, 1991). Whereas some people find buffers against the
negative effects of mobility by making connections in new communities, others
are less likely to have the resources to deal with the effects of frequent moves
and are more likely to have problems.
neighborhood attachment and community disorganization (substance abuse,
delinquency, and violence). Higher rates of juvenile drug problems, crime, and
delinquency, as well as higher rates of adult crime and drug trafficking, occur
in neighborhoods where people have little attachment to the community, where the
rates of vandalism are high, and where there is low surveillance of public
places (Murray, 1983; Wilson and Hernstein, 1985).
the most significant issue affecting community attachment is whether residents
feel they can make a difference in their lives. If the neighborhood's key
players - such as merchants, teachers, police, and human and social services
personnel - live outside the neighborhood, residents' sense of commitment will
be less. Lower rates of voter participation and parental involvement in school
also reflect attitudes about community attachment. Neighborhood disorganization
makes it more difficult for schools, churches, and families to pass on prosocial
values and norms (Herting and Guest, 1985; Sampson, 1986).
Extreme economic and social deprivation (substance abuse, delinquency, violence, teenage pregnancy, and school dropout). Children who live in deteriorating neighborhoods characterized by extreme poverty, poor living conditions, and high unemployment are more likely to develop problems with delinquency, teenage pregnancy, and school dropout, and are more likely to engage in violence toward others during adolescence and adulthood (Bursik and Webb, 1982; Farrington, Lowber, Elliott, Hawkins, Kandel, Klein, McCord, Rowen, and Tremblay, 1990). Children who live in these neighborhoods and have behavior or adjustment problems early in life are also more likely to have drug abuse problems as they grow older (Robins and Ratcliff, 1979).
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