Youth violence is an important public health issue that results in injuries, victimization, and often death, especially for boys. Given the serious consequences of violence among young people, researchers have made considerable efforts to understand what factors make boys more susceptible to violence and victimization and what factors protect them from harm.
Research indicates that boys, like Russell — who have a negative attitude toward aggressive behavior, have positive friendships, and are involved in structured activities — are less likely to become violent. Other protective factors include having supportive and caring parents, having good problem solving and conflict resolution skills, living in neighborhoods where firearms are not readily available, and not being involved in gangs. Boys who have been exposed to family or neighborhood violence, or spend time among aggressive peers, are more likely both to engage in violent acts and to become victims of violence.
Although researchers have learned a lot about boys’ mortality and victimization, there is a need to build on prior research to continue to identify what strengths make some boys more likely to succeed and what risks, or challenges, increase the likelihood that they will struggle.