More organized activities can help to reduce gun violence among young people


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Participation in organized and group activities may play a key role in preventing gun aggression among youth exposed to violence or violent behavior, according to a new study in Developmental Psychology by researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention.

“Our study supports the idea that involving young people in supervised prosocial activities is vital in helping them connect with others for support and mentorship, which can break the cycle from victimization to violence, especially gun violence,” says Marc Zimmerman, co-director of the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor at UM’s School of Public Health.

Zimmerman and his UM colleagues are working with community partners to identify and implement solutions that address the leading cause of death among individuals ages 14 to 24, nearly 10,000 of whom died as a result of a firearms injury in the United States in 2020.

Zimmerman teamed up with Daniel Lee, a research scientist at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, to launch the study that sought to identify ways in which youth exposure to violence can be directly or indirectly disrupted.

As part of their study, they analyzed study data from more than 500 youth seeking care at the emergency department of Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. They found that positive socialization and social bonds with prosocial adults and peers can help younger youth regulate their emotional responses to violence exposure and help them seek support from prosocial adults.

“This is an example of why rigorous firearms research is so important to the field — such studies could help researchers understand avenues to break the cycle of gun violence and develop interventions to address the leading cause of death among American youth,” Patrick said. Carter, co-director of the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and associate professor of emergency medicine at UM’s Medical School.

The study shows that organized activities can also reduce the association between retaliatory attitudes and gun aggression. To address retaliatory attitudes as a potential factor linking exposure to violence and firearms aggression, the researchers suggest that increased opportunities for organized activities for youth dealing with violence exposure could provide a host of benefits.

Research findings indicate that social, psychological, and developmental benefits, such as academic engagement, mentorship, prosocial behavior and others, may serve as an essential strategy to prevent gun violence among youth, and more research is needed to explore how participation in organized activities provides protection against firearms aggression.

This study is one of several community engagement projects led by the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, which launched last summer as part of a $10 million university commitment to generate new knowledge and develop innovative solutions to reduce firearm injuries. , respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to legally possess firearms.

“Retaliatory attitudes are a point of intervention to break the well-documented link between violence exposure and gun aggression among youth,” Lee said. “Participating in organized activities such as extracurricular school activities may reduce the influence of retaliatory attitudes on gun aggression and may be a viable strategy to prevent gun aggression for youth exposed to violence.”

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More information:
Daniel B. Lee et al, Retaliatory Attitudes as a Mediator of Violence Exposure and Gun Aggression Among Youth: The Protective Role of Involvement in Organized Activities, Developmental Psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1037/dev0001339

Provided by the University of Michigan

Quote: More Organized Activities May Help Reduce Youth Gun Violence (2022, May 3), retrieved May 3, 2022 from

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