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Quantitative Measures


2 Peer-reviewed references per topic

300 word minimum per topic (must answer all questions fully regardless of word count)

Topic 1: Scenario

The mayor of a mid-sized town is concerned about gun violence and has asked you to conduct a quantitative study to identify characteristics of youthful offenders who commit crimes with firearms. The mayor’s goal is to reduce juvenile gun violence in the community.

Identify four quantitative tools that you could use to collect information to conduct this research. How do the four tools differ and how does the data collected address the overarching research question regarding juvenile gun violence in the community?

Which descriptive analyses might you use to examine the characteristics of youth who commit firearm offenses? Explain how the normal distribution (bell curve) can be used to analyze the quantitative data on the characteristics of the youthful offenders.

Topic 2: Quantitative Measures

Review the Table: Percentage of Boys Involved in Delinquency, by Gun Ownership Status and discuss your responses to the following questions:

– What is the unit of analysis?

– What types of quantitative measures are being presented in the table?

– What conclusions can you draw from the table about delinquent boys and gun ownership?

Reference: Lizotte, A., & Sheppard, D. (2001). Gun use by male juveniles: Research and prevention. OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Justice (p. 2).

Topic 3:

Consider the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and related cities that have experienced protests surrounding law enforcement and the deadly use of force. From a criminological research perspective, suppose we wanted to conduct a study to identify strategies for addressing community members’ distrust of the police. Given all that you have learned to this point, how would you design the research study? In responding to this question be sure to address the following items:

– Discuss the type of data (quantitative and/or qualitative) you would collect and explain your rationale for the choice;

– Explain the sampling strategy you would use, including the type of sampling you would use to select study participants;

– Identify the types of data collection tools you would use to collect data; and

– Explain the steps you would take to ensure that you consistently and accurately collect and analyze your dat

un Use by Male Juveniles: Research and Prevention

Alan Lizotte and David Sheppard

A Message From OJJDP Although many adolescents own and use guns for legitimate, legal sporting activities, other youth report that they own and carry guns for pro- tection or for the purpose of commit- ting a crime. Illegal gun ownership and use among juveniles are the focus of public concern and of this Bulletin.

While prior research on gun owner- ship and use has concentrated largely on adults, the Bulletin’s authors draw on data from OJJDP’s Rochester Youth Development Study to examine patterns of gun owner- ship and gun carrying among adoles- cents. The Bulletin also addresses the interrelationship between gangs and guns.

Efforts to reduce the illegal carrying of guns by youth and juvenile gun violence are described, in particular the Boston Gun Initiative, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ Youth Firearms Violence Initiative, and OJJDP’s Partnerships To Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence Program.

Reducing the illegal carrying of guns by juveniles and youth firearm vio- lence is not just a problem for law enforcement agencies to resolve. Effective efforts will require support and participation from multiple com- munity agencies.

It is our hope that the information that this Bulletin provides will en- hance those efforts.

U.S. Department of Justice

Office of Justice Programs

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

July 2001

Many adolescents own and use guns legally for sporting activity, but there is a perception that an increasing number of other adolescents own guns for protection and carry them on the street. In fact, one study of urban juvenile arrestees found that more than two-thirds of the juveniles said their primary reason for owning and carrying a weapon was self-protection; a smaller number also reported using their weapon for drug trafficking or other illegal activity (Decker, Pennel, and Caldwell, 1997; Snyder and Sickmund, 1999). It is ille- gal gun ownership and use among adoles- cents that constitute a problem of great concern. Researchers and policymakers have become increasingly interested in understanding patterns of gun ownership and use among adolescents so that pro- grams can be developed to respond to this problem.

Prior research on gun ownership and use has focused mainly on adults and has char- acterized adults who own guns as either low risk or high risk, reflecting the extent to which they are likely to increase the risk of violent crime in the general population. Low-risk gun owners tend to be socialized by their families into gun ownership, to own guns legally (holding permits when required by their jurisdiction), and to own them for socially approved reasons (e.g., hunting). Because they do not tend to use their guns in criminal activities, they are unlikely to directly increase the risk of

This Bulletin is part of the Office of Juve- nile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Youth Development Series, which presents findings from the Program of Re- search on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency. Teams at the University at Albany, State University of New York; the University of Colorado; and the University of Pittsburgh collaborated extensively in designing the studies. At study sites in Roch- ester, New York; Denver, Colorado; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the three research teams have interviewed 4,000 participants at regular intervals for a decade, recording their lives in detail. Findings to date indi- cate that preventing delinquency requires accurate identification of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of delinquent behavior and the protective factors that enhance positive adolescent development.

Much concern has been expressed recently, in both the popular press and the social science literature, about the use of firearms by adolescents—in Ameri- can society in general and urban areas in particular. In a 1997 national survey of more than 16,000 students in grades 9–12, 18 percent said they had carried a weapon outside the home in the previous 30-day period (Kann et al., 1998). The problem is more severe in inner-city neighborhoods. One study involving 800 inner-city high school students reported that 22 percent of all students said they carried a weapon (Sheley and Wright, 1993).


were eight times more likely than sport owners to commit a gun crime, 3.5 times more likely to commit a street crime, nearly five times more likely to be in a gang, and 4.5 times more likely to sell drugs—all statistically significant differences.

One should not necessarily infer from this analysis that owning a gun for protection leads to criminal activity. The opposite may be true: involvement in criminal activ- ity may lead to the need to own a gun for protection. For example, a drug dealer may obtain a gun to ply his trade, rather than ply his trade because he happens to have a gun. However, one thing is certain: boys who own guns for protection have adapted to the dangerous associations and circum- stances that surround criminal activity.

Socialization Into Gun Ownership—Peers and Gangs As mentioned earlier, boys may be social- ized into legal gun ownership by parents or illegal ownership by delinquent peers and gang members.3 This appears to be the case for the boys in the Rochester study. Having a parent who owned a gun for sport increased the odds more than fivefold that a boy owned a gun for sport, but parental gun ownership had no impact on the likelihood that a boy owned a gun for protection. Conversely, having peers who owned guns for protection increased the odds more than sixfold that a boy owned a gun for protection. It appears that family socialization into gun use increases the likelihood of owning a gun

or used guns. The sample size (n) varies slightly, depending on which waves of data are used in each part of the analysis.

Gun Ownership and Gun Crime Table 1 shows the percentage of boys involved in different types of delinquent behavior, according to their gun ownership status: those who did not currently own guns, those who owned guns for sport, and those who owned guns for protection.1 Overall, boys who owned guns for sport look more like those who didn’t own guns at all than those who owned guns for pro- tection. Compared with boys who did not own guns at all, those who owned guns for sport did have significantly elevated levels of gun carrying, gun crime, and drug sell- ing. (For street crime and gang member- ship, the differences were not statistically significant from zero.) However, boys who owned guns for protection were signifi- cantly and substantially more likely to be involved in delinquent behavior than either those who did not own guns or those who owned guns for sport. For example, 70 percent of protection owners carried their guns, whereas only 11.1 per- cent of sport owners did so, and only 3.2 percent of those who did not own a gun had carried a gun in the past 6 months.2 In other words, a protection owner was six times more likely than a sport owner to carry a gun. Further, protection owners

violent crime in the general population. High-risk owners, on the other hand, tend to be socialized on the street into gun ownership, to own guns illegally, and to be more likely to use guns in criminal activities. Because of their criminal use of guns, they do increase the risk of vio- lent crime in the general population (Bor- dua and Lizotte, 1979; Harding, 1990; Hard- ing and Blake, 1989; Lizotte, Bordua, and White, 1981; Wright and Rossi, 1986).

As noted, most studies of gun ownership and use have focused on adults; most of these studies have been cross-sectional (i.e., based on a sample of adults at a par- ticular point). Such studies provide snap- shots of gun ownership and use among adults but do not show how juveniles come to use guns illegally. Showing how illegal gun ownership and use unfold for juveniles requires a longitudinal analysis that follows a sample of juveniles over an extended period. This Bulletin provides such an analysis using data from the Rochester Youth Development Study. The Bulletin also summarizes current research and prevention efforts aimed at reducing juvenile gun violence.

The Rochester Youth Development Study The Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) is a longitudinal study investigating the development of delinquent behavior, drug use, and related behaviors among a group of urban adolescents. RYDS sample members and the adults primarily respon- sible for their care (usually mothers) have been interviewed periodically since the 1987–88 school year, when the youth were in the seventh or eighth grade. For more information on RYDS and the methodology used to measure gun ownership and crimes, see p. 3.

The following analysis is based on data for boys only. Girls are omitted because the girls in the Rochester sample rarely owned

1 Much more detail on the analysis presented in Table 1 is available in Lizotte et al. (1994).

2 The carrying question asks about carrying guns “on the street.” Boys could have carried illegal guns that they did not own (e.g., they could have borrowed or rented them). Sport gun owners might have misinter- preted their legal carrying and reported it (e.g., a boy could have carried his rifle from the car to the house before and after going target shooting with his parent)—this carrying issue is addressed further on page 5.

Table 1: Percentage of Boys Involved in Delinquency, by Gun Ownership Status

Gun Ownership Status (%)

Type of No Gun Owned Gun Owned for Gun Owned for Delinquency (n=548) Sport (n=27) Protection (n=40)

Gun carrying 3.2 11.1 70.0

Gun crime 1.3 3.7 30.0

Street crime 14.8 18.5 67.5

Gang membership 7.2 11.1 55.0

Drug selling 3.5 7.4 32.5

3 Intergenerational gangs do exist in some cities, and it is possible that parents do socialize their children into illegal gun ownership; however, there is no empirical evidence of this process at this time.


for sport but has no impact on the likeli- hood of owning a gun for protection.

Gangs and Guns Media reports leave the impression that illegal gun ownership and use by gang members have become more and more commonplace and are now a standard feature of gangs. Implicit in these reports is the assumption that gangs provide

Rochester Study Methodology

The Rochester study of gun ownership and use is part of the ongoing Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) of delinquency and drug use conducted by researchers at the University at Albany, State University of New York. RYDS is part of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Pre- vention’s (OJJDP’s) Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency. An OJJDP Fact Sheet (Browning et al., 1999) summarizes the research design for the RYDS and other Causes and Correlates projects.

The RYDS sample of 1,000 adolescents was selected from seventh and eighth grade public school students in Rochester, NY—a city with a diverse population and high crime rate. The sample was stratified to overrepresent youth at high risk of serious delinquency and drug use. Males were oversampled (75 percent of the sample) because they are more likely than females to engage in serious delinquency, and students from high-crime areas were oversampled on the assumption that they are at greater risk of offending. In the analysis presented in this Bulletin, the data on boys are weighted so that the sample is random and representative of the Rochester public school population of seventh and eighth grade students in the 1987–88 school year.

Participants were interviewed in 12 waves, beginning in the 1987–88 school year, when they were in the seventh or eighth grade, and continuing through 1996–97, when they were young adults (average age 22). The first nine waves of interviews were conducted at 6-month intervals and also included the adults primarily responsible for the care of the adolescents (usually mothers). The latest three waves were conducted annually. Data were also collected from schools, police, courts, and social service agencies.

Measuring Gun Ownership and Gun Crime Gun ownership typically is categorized as legal or illegal. For adolescents, however, this distinction is not meaningful or measurable. In New York, handguns require a special permit, which must be signed by a judge. In Monroe County (where Rochester is located), the judge responsible for permits only rarely signed a permit for an adolescent. Thus, if a study par- ticipant reported owning a handgun, he either owned it ille- gally or was mistaken about his legal ownership. In the latter case, a parent or other responsible adult may have owned the gun, but the youth thought of it as his or thought it would be his when he was old enough to obtain a permit. Further- more, although a permit is not needed for long guns, persons under 18 cannot buy such a gun, but a parent could buy it and the youth could possess it.

A more reasonable strategy is to classify the boys in this study on the basis of their motivation for owning a gun—for sport or for protection. Adolescents who own guns for sport should be at lower risk of using the guns for criminal activity than those who own for protection. Adolescents who own guns for protection probably travel in a dangerous world and will soon find themselves involved in gun crime. If this latter assumption is true, one would expect protection owners to have handguns and sawed-off rifles and shotguns, because such guns are concealed most easily and are the weapons of choice for criminal activity. Conversely, one would expect sport owners to have relatively few handguns and sawed-off rifles and shotguns.

Questions about gun ownership were first asked at wave 4 of the interviews, when the boys were in the ninth or tenth grade and were 14 or 15 years old. At this wave, 67 boys (about 10 percent of the sample) owned guns—27 said they owned only for sport, 30 owned only for protection, and 10 owned for both reasons. The 27 boys who owned for sport reported owning a total of 30 guns, of which 21 were rifles or shotguns and only 9 were handguns. (Only one of the long guns owned for sport was sawed off. The boy who owned the sawed-off long gun also owned a handgun. He reported no criminal activity and did not carry the guns or use drugs.) The 30 protection owners reported owning a total of 50 guns—an average of 1.67 guns per boy. Protection owners had more handguns (28) than rifles and shotguns (22), and more than half of their long guns (12) were sawed off. The 10 respon- dents who owned for both sport and protection owned a total of 12 guns: 5 handguns and 7 long guns (4 of which were sawed off). Because of the types of guns owned by boys who said they owned for both reasons, these boys were catego- rized as owning for protection. In short, sport owners tended to own unaltered long guns and protection owners tended to own handguns and sawed-off rifles and shotguns. This is pre- cisely what one would expect if sport owners were legal own- ers and protection owners were illegal owners.

Study participants were asked whether they had participated in 44 types of delinquent behaviors and drug use in the last 6 months. If they answered yes, they were asked followup questions about the precise nature of the offense. Responses were screened to ensure that the behaviors reported fit prop- erly into the category of delinquent behavior and that the be- haviors were “actionable” offenses. In other words, research- ers ensured that the behaviors were not trivial offenses such as pranks. The followup questions also determined whether a gun was used in the commission of the crime. If a gun was used, the crime was recorded as a gun crime.

illegal guns and training in their use. How- ever, it is equally plausible that gangs recruit boys who already own guns and are well versed in their use. Table 1 shows that gang membership was more common for boys who owned guns for protection than for those who owned them for sport and those who did not own them. Do gangs recruit youth who are already involved with guns, or does gang membership lead to gun ownership?

Past research has usually indicated that gangs and guns go hand in hand. Strodt- beck and Short (1964) describe a gun dif- fusion process that operates in gangs. Members fear that sudden violence may be perpetrated against them. Since most gang activity takes place outside the realm of police protection, gang members see a need to protect themselves from others who are just like them. As members of one gang arm, members of opposing


gangs arm for the same reason. These observations have been confirmed by many researchers. Horowitz (1983) reported that gang members go armed because their rivals have guns. Similarly, Miller (1992), Block and Block (1993), Sheley and Wright (1993 and 1994), Bjer- regaard and Lizotte (1995), and Decker and Van Winkle (1996) all found a strong connection between illegal gun use and gang membership.

A longitudinal data set such as that from the Rochester study offers the unique advantage of allowing researchers to determine whether gun ownership (for sport or protection) occurs prior to, dur- ing, or after gang participation. To examine this relationship, researchers used three measures of gang membership and com- pared gang members with nonmembers, at interview waves 7, 8, and 9. Future gang members are boys who were not in a gang in a preceding wave (7 or 8) but who joined a gang in a subsequent wave (8 or 9). Current gang members are boys who reported being in a gang during the cur- rent wave (7, 8, or 9). Past gang members are boys who were in a gang in a preced- ing wave (7 or 8) but were not currently in a gang.4 Nonmembers are boys who said they were never in a gang. Table 2 shows the percentage of nonmembers and future, current, and past members who reported owning guns for sport and protection, carrying guns, and having peers who owned guns for protection.5

There were no statistically significant dif- ferences by gang status in the percentage of boys owning guns for sport. That is, gang membership neither enhanced nor diminished the likelihood of owning a gun for sport. However, gang membership did enhance the likelihood of owning a gun for protection. Future gang members were somewhat more likely than nonmembers to own guns for protection (23.1 percent versus 14.2 percent), but current gang members were clearly more likely than nonmembers to own guns for protection (30.9 percent versus 14.2 percent).

The rate of owning illegal guns was not significantly higher for future gang mem- bers than for those who did not join gangs. This finding suggests that gangs

are not particularly likely to recruit boys who already own and carry guns for pro- tection. Furthermore, among boys who had left gangs, the rate of gun ownership for protection dropped to a level similar to that of boys who had never belonged to a gang (13.2 percent for past members ver- sus 14.2 percent for nonmembers). A simi- lar pattern was found for carrying guns on the street. These findings suggest that boys who do not want to participate in the violence and gun carrying associated with gangs leave the gangs. The findings might also suggest that when youth leave gangs,

they feel less need to carry guns because they are no longer in a climate of conflict and violence. Statistically, past gang members look like nonmembers in terms of owning guns for protection and carry- ing guns on the street. Thus, it appears that gangs cause new members to obtain and then carry guns, but they do not recruit boys who already carry guns.

Table 2 also shows that joining a gang made it more likely that a boy would have peers who owned guns for protection. The likelihood of peer gun ownership for future gang members was similar to that

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