Using the theory of planned behavior to predict aggression and weapons carrying in urban African American early adolescent youth

Nadine M Finigan-Carr, Tina L Cheng, Andrea Gielen, Denise L Haynie, Bruce Simons-Morton
Health Education & Behavior 2015, 42 (2): 220-30
Aggressive and weapons carrying behaviors are indicative of youth violence. The theory of planned behavior is used in the current analysis to improve our understanding of violence-related behaviors. We examine the influence of perceived behavioral control (self-control and decision making) as a part of the overall framework for understanding the risk and protective factors for aggressive behaviors and weapons carrying. As the baseline assessment of an intervention trial, survey data were collected on 452 sixth-grade students (50% girls; 96.6% African American; mean age 12.0 years) from urban middle schools. A total of 18.4% carried a weapon in the prior 12 months, with boys more likely to carry a weapon than girls (22.5% vs. 14.2%, p = .02). Of the youth, 78.4% reported aggressive behaviors with no significant differences found between girls (81.3%) and boys (75.5%). In logistic regression models, having peers who engage in problem behaviors was found to be a significant risk factor. Youth with peers who engaged in numerous problem behaviors were five times more likely to be aggressive than those who reported little or no peer problem behaviors. Teens who reported that their parents opposed aggression (odds ratio [OR] = 0.76; confidence interval [CI] = 0.66, 0.88) and who used self-control strategies (OR = 0.59; CI = 0.39, 0.87) were found to report less aggressive behaviors. For weapons carrying, being a girl (OR = 0.56; CI = 0.32, 0.97) and self-control (OR = 0.52; CI = 0.29, 0.92) were protective factors. This study demonstrated that the theory of planned behavior may provide a useful framework for the development of violence prevention programs. Practitioners should consider integrating strategies for developing healthy relationships and improving self-control.

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