University of Pittsburgh researcher gets CDC grant to study youth violence

11/03/04

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 3 Anthony Fabio, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and investigator with the university's Center for Injury Research and Control (CIRCL), has received a nearly half-million dollar, three-year research and training grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study trends in youth violence.

The CDC's mentored research scientist awards are designed to help promising young investigators become experts in a particular field. Dr. Fabio's research project titled, "Why Some Generations Are More Violent Than Others A Contextual Model for Understanding Crime Trends," seeks to determine the role of social influence on violence in adolescents over time and will draw primary data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study.

"I am honored to receive this award. My hope is that through this research, we will be able to better identify both analytical and theoretical techniques in order to provide effective problem solving strategies with regard to youth violence," said Dr. Fabio.

Using data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study -- a study of 1,517 inner-city boys from Pittsburgh, between the ages of 7 and 25 to better understand how and why boys get involved in delinquent behaviors -- Dr. Fabio will look at two age groups from the study; those 7 years old at the beginning of the study in 1987, and those aged 13 years at the beginning of the study.

The older group reported higher rates of violence than the younger group throughout the study. The primary question that Dr. Fabio and his colleagues plan to answer is whether this difference is due to some inherent distinction between the groups, or to some special or cultural factor such as poor economy, increased gang participation or drug dealing that played a greater risk during the time that the older group was growing up. Understanding these differences may help to predict future increase in violence.

The principal investigator of the Pittsburgh Youth Study is Rolph Loeber, Ph.D., distinguished university professor of psychiatry, departments of psychiatry and epidemiology, at the University of Pittsburgh's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Loeber's findings on dynamics of youth violence have yielded nearly 100 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Loeber will be collaborating with Dr. Fabio, along with David Farrington, Ph.D, professor of psychological criminology at the University of Cambridge, England. Dr. Fabio also will spend one semester at Cambridge next fall as part of his training grant.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, juvenile violent crime arrests increased substantially through the late 1980s through 1994, and then decreased for eight consecutive years. In 2002, the juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes was 47 percent below its peak in 1994.

Other collaborators on this study include Frederick Rivara, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle; Steve Wisniewski, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; and David R. Jacobs, Ph.D., a statistician from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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