Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Violence is considered a public health problem in the United States, yet little is known about the benefit of using a combined epidemiology and criminology (EpiCrim) approach to focus on urban youth gun violence. The purpose of this general qualitative study was to determine in what ways Akers and Lanier's EpiCrim approach in tandem with Benet's polarities of democracy approach is explanatory of gun homicides by youth in U.S. urban areas and if the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System adequately addresses gun abatement measures. Data were collected through semi structured interviews of 16 criminal justice practitioners and medical professionals with experience relative to juvenile justice policies pertaining to gun violence. Interview data were inductively coded, then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. The findings indicate that EpiCrim provides a platform to focus research efforts on complex issues that are drivers for behavioral risk factors associated with youth gun violence in urban areas. Participants perceive a necessity for legislative revisions supporting gun violence research and the reduction of privacy issues that pose barriers to EpiCrim research. EpiCrim research can provide data that help identify the root cause of youth gun violence in urban areas, and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System does not fully address gun abatement measures. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to local, state, and federal legislatures to explore legislative action to incorporate EpiCrim strategies as a method to reduce gun violence among youth in urban communities.