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Health Services


Chester Jones


Youth gun crime is an important public health issue that affects many communities in the United States. Since 2012, there were over 30,000 gun-related deaths in the United States. Gun violence remains the leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. This phenomenological study examined single female parents' attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of the influences and causes of youth gun crimes. The purposive sample drew from 10 single female parents of youth ages 14-17 charged with gun crimes. Sutherlands' (1974) differential association theory provided the theoretical framework for the study. The mothers participated in a series of in-depth, face-to-face interviews; these data were analyzed via inductive and emergent analysis. Results of the study indicated that these 10 parents were attempting to convey the correct message to their children to avoid gun violence. This message did not resonate due to environmental peer influence. One finding was the perception that peer influence and environmental factors favorable to gun violence hampered the impact of the parents in getting the message to youths to avoid youth gun violence. The study findings suggest that curtailing gun violence will require collaboration amongst community members. In addition, mothers need to be armed with resources that address the issues of peer pressure and community violence. The results of the study can impact positive social change by informing parents to be more empowered to seek resources to combat peer pressure and gun crimes. For this reason, the study should provide information useful for individual families in curtailing youth gun violence, thus impacting the community and the lives of many.