Code of the Street and African-American Adolescent Violence   [open pdf - 414KB]

"The 'code of the street' theory, developed by Yale professor Elijah Anderson, presents an explanation for high rates of violence among African-American adolescents. Observing life in a Philadelphia African-American neighborhood, Anderson saw that economic disadvantage, separation from mainstream society, and racial discrimination encountered by some African-American adolescents may lead to anti-social attitudes and to violent behavior. This Research in Brief presents research exploring Anderson's thesis; researchers conducted repeated interviews with more than 800 African-American adolescents (ages 10 to 15) and their primary caregivers in Georgia and Iowa over a two-year period. The researchers looked for developmental relationships between neighborhood and family characteristics, reported experiences with racial discrimination, expressed street code values and self-reported violent behavior in young people. The results generally support Anderson's original observations: the stress of living in a poor and violent environment can cause young people to adopt the code of the street as a lifestyle guide. This, in turn, is a powerful predictor of violent conduct, amplified by the effects of negative neighborhood characteristics."

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National Criminal Justice Reference Service: http://www.ncjrs.gov/
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