The Drug-Violence Nexus Among School Dropouts and Detained Youth in Philadelphia and Toronto

Lana D. Harrison, University of Delaware
Patricia G. Erickson, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health
Charles E. Freeman, University of Delaware
Jennifer Butters, Addiction Research Foundation Division

This paper investigates the relationship between violence and alcohol and other drug use among youth. To examine the associations among the relatively rare events of violence and alcohol and other drug use, we use information gathered from 800 youth between the ages 14 to 17. Half were detained at the time of the interview, and the other half were school dropouts. Half of each sample is drawn from the Philadelphia and Toronto metropolitan areas, respectively. Results show that 28.5% of the Toronto youth and 35.4% of the Philadelphia youth report drug-related violence in the past year. Using Goldstein's tripartite classification scheme, we find that most drug related violence is psycho-pharmacological in nature, followed by economic compulsive, and then, systemic. These findings contradict Goldstein's findings with respect to drug-related murders in New York in 1988, in which systemic violence was most common. However, the drugs most related to violence among youth were alcohol and marijuana-which are also the drugs they are most likely to use. The primary drug in Goldstein's research on homicides was crack cocaine. The relationship between violence and alcohol or other drug use, drug selling, and other delinquent behaviors, is explored using logistic regression to further examine Goldstein's tripartite framework with youth.

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Updated 05/20/2006