Gun violence and the voices of youth on community safety in the time of COVID-19 in East Harlem, NY: a youth participatory action research cross-sectional study.

Publication date: Jul 12, 2023

The USA has failed to codify the protection of children from gun violence (GV) as a human right. This study employs a youth participatory action research methodology, within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to investigate the relationships between GV exposure, self-identified gender and perceptions of children’s rights and safety. An anonymous survey based on UNICEF USA’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative interactive survey tool targeting adolescents was modified by East Harlem, New York high school student co-researchers in collaboration with near-peer graduate students. The 61-question survey was administered at an East Harlem high school. Analysis consisted of univariate, bivariate and logistic regression using SPSS(R). A total of 153 students completed the survey: 48. 4% self-identified as male and 45. 8% as female. Thirty-five percent reported witnessing GV. Most (79. 1%) were aware of child rights regardless of gender or GV exposure but there were differences in perceptions of safety. Fifteen percent of females reported never feeling safe at school compared to 3% of males (p = 0. 01). Females were 2. 2 times as likely as males to report transportation waiting areas as never safe (p = 0. 008). Almost a third of females reported never feeling safe from sexual harassment in public, compared to 10% of males (p = 0. 004). In multivariable logistic regression adjusted for gender, race/ethnicity and grade level, students who witnessed GV were 4. 6 times more likely to report never feeling safe from violence (95% CI 1. 7-12. 4). Thirty percent of students who witnessed GV reported not attending school because of safety concerns. Students who witnessed GV had 2. 2 times the odds of carrying a weapon to school (95% CI 1. 1-4. 5). These patterns continued for other perceptions of safety. The students in this study affirmed their rights to participate and express their views on matters that may affect them, as articulated in the UNCRC. The study revealed differences in perceptions of safety by self-identified gender and identified gun violence as a major contributor of youth’s perception of lack of safety. The study evinces the efficacy of employing YPAR methodology to identify and answer youth concerns of community safety and prioritize honoring child rights.

Concepts Keywords
Anonymous CFCI
Harlem Child rights
Researchers Community safety
Thirty Gun violence
Unicef Participatory action research
Youth voice


Type Source Name
disease MESH violence
disease VO time
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO USA
disease VO report
disease VO LACK

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