New study tracks paths of assault victims before the attack

     (NewsWorks file photo)

    (NewsWorks file photo)

    We all have some assumptions about areas or neighborhoods where we might be more likely to be assaulted, but a new study from the University of Pennsylvania mapped out some factors that seem to contribute to violent crimes.

    Researchers interviewed more than 300 young people age ten and 24 who were treated at Philadelphia hospitals for gun shot wounds, or injuries from other weapons.

    Lead researcher Doug Wiebe from Penn explained that his team tracked their activities. “We asked them — show me where you woke up in the morning, and then walk me through the path of your activities, up until the time when you were assaulted.”

    They compared this group to the activities of people in the same age group who had not been assaulted. They found that the risk of being attacked was lower in neighborhoods that were more connected — where residents participated in events like block parties, or helped each other out.

    “The risk of being assaulted was higher in areas with higher rates of truancy, and higher in areas with more vacancies, and violence and vandalism,” said Wiebe.

    This may seem like common sense, but Wiebe says it’s important to back assumptions with actual findings, to develop public health interventions that stand a chance at curbing violence.

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