Purpose: We hypothesize that adolescents' exposure to violence and personal victimization will be associated with the frequency with which they engage in fighting behaviors. However, adolescents who are future-oriented and goal-directed and from more secure families are hypothesized to report less fighting behavior.
Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous survey was administered to 225 youths (males = 44%) aged 11-19 years, living in or around nine Housing and Urban Development housing projects in an urban area. The questionnaire contained multiple standardized scales. The dependent variables were the frequency of physical fights, hitting someone with whom the subject lived, and gang fighting during the last year.
Results: Previous exposure to violence and victimization, school grade, and number of sexual partners accounted for 16.2% of the variation in frequency of fighting during the last year (based on multiple regression analysis). Exposure to violence and victimization and a family with an unemployed head of household accounted for 11% of the variation in domestic fighting. Exposure to violence and victimization, hopelessness, and anticipated socioeconomic status accounted for 15% of the variation in the frequency of gang fighting.
Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that exposure to, and being a victim of, violence is associated with the frequency of fighting by adolescents.