Traditional violence-prevention programs may not prevent teen fighting

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Washington, Sep 18 (ANI): In the wake of the failure of the traditional violence-prevention programs, parents and schools could play a significant role in stemming adolescent fighting, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center have apparently uncovered new insights on adolescent fighting: what triggers it, and how to stem it.

"Our findings tell us that it's unlikely that traditional cookie-cutter violence-prevention programs will be effective for everyone," said Rashmi Shetgiri, lead author of the study.

The analysis of more than 4,000 respondents has suggested that violence prevention programs targeted to specific teen populations may be helpful in curbing aggression.

The researchers found that Caucasian and Latino teens, who reported either smoking or alcohol consumption, were more likely to fight, as were African-Americans living below the poverty threshold.

Moreover, the study is the first to suggest that depression may increase the risk of fighting for Latino youth.

Shetgiri said that finding is significant because prior investigations have shown that Latino adolescents have higher rates of depression than other groups.

"Our study didn't examine why depression might lead to increased fighting among Latinos, but it showed that this mental-health disorder was a significant risk factor among both Latino boys and girls," she said.

In reported anti-fighting factors, Latinos who said they felt supported by at least one person at their school were less likely to fight.

One of the most important protective factors for Caucasian adolescents was the level of perceived support from their families.

"We didn't find distinctive protective factors for African-American kids, but there were trends toward both family and school support being potentially important," said Shetgiri.

She added that while the way adolescents perceive support varies, those who were expected to succeed were less likely to fight.

The results of the study were drawn from the adolescent portion of the 2003 California Health Interview Survey.

The statewide sample included 4,010 teens (12 to 17 years old) who took part in the telephone survey.

Although the study focused on California, Shetgiri said the findings could be extrapolated.

"The data set reflects the kind of racial/ethnic diversity of a lot of urban populations throughout the country, particularly in terms of the increasing Latino population," she said.

The findings were published in the Academic Paediatrics. (ANI)

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