The Relationship Between Life Satisfaction, Risk-Taking Behaviors, and Youth Violence

Published in: Journal of Interpersonal Violence, v. 20, no. 11, Nov. 2005, p. 1495-1518

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by John MacDonald, Alex Piquero, Robert F. Valois, Keith J. Zullig

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This study builds on existing criminological theories and examines the role of life satisfaction and self-control in explaining youth violence. Using data from a stratified cluster sample of 5,414 public high school students who responded to the South Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the study examines the relationship between adolescents' perceptions of life satisfaction, behavioral risky acts, and self-reported acts of violence. Analyses indicate that higher levels of life satisfaction are associated with lower violence. Participation in work and involvement in health-related risk-taking behaviors pertaining to sex, drugs, and alcohol are also associated with increased violence. The implications of these findings for criminological theory and for school-based violence prevention programs are discussed.

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