Adolescence is a time of immense change and transition. During adolescence, a
hopeful sense for the future can facilitate positive development, support health-enhancing
behaviors, and promote a successful transition into adulthood. The purpose of this study
was to develop and test a longitudinal model linking positive social connections
(connectedness to mother, neighborhood connectedness) and violence involvement
during early adolescence with serious violence involvement (violence with a weapon)
during later adolescence via trajectories of hopelessness during middle adolescence. The
proposed hope/hopelessness trajectory model is influenced by ecological theory of
development and research on adolescent development, and focuses on individual
development in context. Propositions in the longitudinal model were evaluated.
Relationships between social connections, hopelessness trajectories and violent
behaviors were examined in a sample of 723 adolescents who participated in 5 or more
years of the Mobile Youth Survey (MYS). The MYS is a multiple cohort study involving
10-19 year old youth (mostly African American) from impoverished neighborhoods in
Mobile and Pritchard, Alabama. This secondary analysis used general growth mixture
modeling with multiple group analysis to (a) estimate parameters of hopelessness
trajectories during middle adolescence, (b) identify latent classes based on developmental
patterns of hopelessness, (c) identify precursors of middle adolescence hopelessness
trajectories in early adolescent social connections and violence experiences, and (d)
assess the impact of hopelessness trajectories on violence with weapon during later
adolescence. This analysis was completed simultaneously for boys and girls.
A low hopelessness class and an increasingly hopeless class were identified for both
boys and girls. The influence of early adolescent predictors varied based on gender and
latent hopelessness trajectory class. Overall, connection to mother was associated with
decreased levels of hopelessness, particularly for increasingly hopeless girls and low
hopeless boys. For increasingly hopeless girls, fighting during early adolescence was
associated with lower initial levels of hopelessness but also with increasing hopelessness
over time. Gender differences were apparent for violence with a weapon during later
adolescence. Increasingly hopeless girls participated in more serious violence during
later adolescence than low hopelessness girls. Regardless of latent class, more boys than
girls participated in serious violence during later adolescence.
Trajectories of hopelessness during middle adolescence influenced participation in
violence with a weapon at a critical transition point in life. Identifying trajectories of
hopelessness and examining the role of hopelessness trajectories in the relationship
between social connectedness and violence involvement will serve as foundation for
innovative, developmentally based nursing interventions designed to prevent youth
violence among impoverished, at-risk youth.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Nursing. Advisors:Susan J. Henly and Renee E. Sieving. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 177 pages, appendices A-E.
Stoddard, Sarah Anne.
Social connections, trajectories of hopelessness and serious violence in impoverished urban youth.
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