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Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury

Abstract

Direct and indirect exposure to gun violence have considerable consequences on individual health and well-being. However, no study has considered the effects of one’s social network on gunshot injury. This study investigates the relationship between an individual’s position in a high-risk social network and the probability of being a victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound by combining observational data from the police with records of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries among 763 individuals in Boston’s Cape Verdean community. A logistic regression approach is used to analyze the probability of being the victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound and whether such injury is related to age, gender, race, prior criminal activity, exposure to street gangs and other gunshot victims, density of one’s peer network, and the social distance to other gunshot victims. The findings demonstrate that 85 % all of the gunshot injuries in the sample occur within a single social network. Probability of gunshot victimization is related to one’s network distance to other gunshot victims: each network association removed from another gunshot victim reduces the odds of gunshot victimization by 25 % (odds ratio = 0.75; 95 % confidence interval, 0.65 to 0.87). This indirect exposure to gunshot victimization exerts an effect above and beyond the saturation of gunshot victimization in one’s peer network, age, prior criminal activity, and other individual and network variables.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Commissioner Edward F. Davis, Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald, and Johnathan Sikorski of the Boston Police Department for their support and assistance in acquiring some of the data presented here. All authors of this project had full access to the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and accuracy of the analysis. Professor Papachristos conducted all network and regression analysis. Professor Papachristos and Mr. Hureau coded and prepared all data. All of the authors shared in study design and writing of the results.

Funding

This research was supported, in part, by a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar’s Fellowship and a grant awarded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation both awarded to Professor Papachristos.

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Correspondence to Andrew V. Papachristos.

Appendix A

Appendix A

Figure 4.
figure 4

The distribution of the number of network ties.

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Papachristos, A.V., Braga, A.A. & Hureau, D.M. Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury. J Urban Health 89, 992–1003 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-012-9703-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-012-9703-9

Keywords

  • Social networks
  • Firearms
  • Gun violence
  • Homicide
  • Street gangs