Authors: Monica H Swahn, Lindsay Gressard, Jane B Palmier, Rogers Kasirye, Catherine Lynch, & Huang Yao.
Introduction: Violence among youth is a major public health issue globally. Despite these concerns, youth violence surveillance and prevention research are either scarce or non-existent, particularly in developing regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of this study is to quantitatively determine the prevalence of violence involving weapons in a convenience sample of service-seeking youth in Kampala. Moreover, the study will seek to determine the overlap between violence victimization and perpetration among these youth and the potentially shared risk factors for these experiences.
Methods: We conducted this study of youth in May and June of 2011 to quantify and describe high-risk behaviors and exposures in a convenience sample (N=457) of urban youth, 14-24 years of age, living on the streets or in the slums and who were participating in a Uganda Youth Development Link drop-in center for disadvantaged street youth. We computed bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to determine associations between psychosocial factors and violence victimization and perpetration.
Results: The overall prevalence of reporting violence victimization involving a weapon was 36%, and violence perpetration with a weapon was 19%. In terms of the overlap between victimization and perpetration, 16.6% of youth (11.6% of boys and 24.1% of girls) reported both. In multivariate analyses, parental neglect due to alcohol use (Adj.OR=2.28;95%CI: 1.12-4.62) and sadness (Adj.OR=4.36 ;95%CI: 1.81-10.53) were the statistically significant correlates of victimization only. Reporting hunger (Adj.OR=2.87 ;95%CI:1.30-6.33), any drunkenness (Adj.OR=2.35 ;95%CI:1.12-4.92) and any drug use (Adj.OR=3.02 ;95%CI:1.16-7.82) were significantly associated with both perpetration and victimization.
Conclusion: The findings underscore the differential experiences associated with victimization and perpetration of violence involving weapons among these vulnerable youth. In particular, reporting hunger, drunkenness and drug use were specifically associated with victimization and perpetration. These are all modifiable risk factors that can be prevented. It is clear that these vulnerable youth are in need of additional services and guidance to ameliorate their adverse childhood experiences, current health risk behaviors and disadvantaged living context.