Examining youth hopelessness as an independent risk correlate for adolescent delinquency and violence

Matern Child Health J. 2011 Jan;15(1):87-97. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0550-6.


Prior research has identified a relationship between youth hopelessness and violence perpetration within specific groups of young people. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between youth hopelessness and violence perpetration in a population-based sample of adolescents. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of data from 136,549 students in the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades responding to the 2007 Minnesota Student Survey. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between hopelessness and youth violence perpetration, including comparison analyses for gender and race/ethnic subgroups as well as adjustment for a measure of poor-low affect. One in four youth (25.1%) reported levels of hopelessness at least enough to bother them in the previous month. Moderate-high levels of hopelessness exhibited a statistically significant independent relationship with a range of violence-related outcomes for youth subgroups: delinquent behavior, weapon carrying on school property, and all forms of self-directed violence. Relationships between hopelessness and interpersonal and intimate partner violence suggest a greater contribution by poor affective functioning for some groups. Interventions designed to reduce youth violence perpetration may benefit from increased strategies to address youth hopelessness as well as youth mental health in general.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Health
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Schools
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / ethnology
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data