Bullets Don't Have No Name on Them: Young People, Exposure to Violence and Informal Social Control in Three Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Patrick Carr, St. Joseph's University
Jamiliyah Gilliam, St. Joseph's University
Joseph Doyle, St. Joseph's University

This paper will showcase the data from the first wave of a multi-wave comparative study of crime, danger and informal social control that focuses on youth living in three high crime neighborhoods in Philadelphia. We examine the daily experience of African American, Latino and white young men and women and we present data on exposure to violence and strategies employed by youth to avoid and reduce the levels of personal danger. We suggest that the actions of youth have implication for how scholars and policy makers conceptualize informal social control. The contribution of this work to what we know about crime control is the specific focus on the capacity of young people to contribute to the informal social control of crime and disorder. Previous work has viewed youth as the problem but the present study illuminates the protective capacity of young people, who after all, are not only the most like to offend, but are the mostly likely to be victims of crime, including violent crime. In short, we are attempting with this research project to move from widely held ideas about youth as a group that must be monitored and punished for violent and delinquent behaviors to viewing them as a resource for strategizing about reducing and preventing violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006