Background: Previous studies of concealed firearm carrying among children and adolescents have focused on individual risk factors.
Objective: To identify features of neighborhoods associated with concealed firearm carrying among a representative sample of youth from Chicago, Ill.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of individual- and neighborhood-level data collected by the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods.
Setting: Families and neighborhoods in Chicago.
Participants: Population-based sample of 1842 multiethnic youth aged 9 to 19 years and the 218 neighborhoods in which they resided. Main Outcome Measure Whether youth had ever carried a concealed firearm.
Results: Lifetime estimates for concealed firearm carrying were 4.9% for males and 1.1% for females. We found that youth in safer and less disordered neighborhoods were less likely than youth in unsafe and more disordered neighborhoods to carry concealed firearms. Specifically, multilevel nonlinear regression models identified a positive association between concealed firearm carrying and (1) community members' ratings of neighborhoods as unsafe for children; (2) neighborhood social disorder; and (3) neighborhood physical disorder. Neighborhood collective efficacy was negatively associated with concealed firearm carrying. Models controlled for neighborhood economic indicators and individual and family factors associated with the carrying of concealed firearms by youth.
Conclusions: Youth are less likely to carry concealed firearms in areas where there is less violence and increased safety. Interventions to improve neighborhood conditions such as increasing safety, improving collective efficacy, and reducing social and physical disorder may be efficacious in preventing firearm use and its associated injuries and death among youth.