The Social Ecology of Juvenile Violence

Donald R. Dixon, California State University
Paul E. Tracy, University of Texas - Dallas

The research examines the neighborhood context of violent juvenile crime. We will be utilizing Dallas Police Department data on all violent offenses committed by juveniles over a five-year period (1997-2001). We will be identifying and analyzing the social and ecological characteristics of the neighborhoods in which such offenses are most highly concentrated. These neighborhoods will be determined using the "hot spot" identification function in the ArcView GIS program. Additionally, US Census data for 2000 will be merged with the offense data thereby allowing analysis of the underlying characteristics of violent juvenile crime hot spots.

The value of this approach is that, rather than subjectively choosing "areas" of the city that supposedly have higher crime density, we use spatial analysis methodology to identify and subsequently analyze the precise areas of the city that have the greatest concentration of violent offenses by juveniles. Thus, our research focuses on the distribution of such crimes in geographic space. By identifying both common and independent demographic, social and ecological characteristics of hot spots, we can approach some understanding of the correlates of violent offenses by juveniles. From this foundation we can begin to articulate policy initiatives aimed at preventing or reducing this kind of crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006