• Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adolescent Gang Membership: Utilizing Latent Class Analysis to Understand the Relationship

      Roman, Caterina Gouvis, 1966-; Ward, Jeffrey T.; Welsh, Wayne N., 1957- (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      Research has shown that there are a number of risk factors that increase the odds of youth joining gangs, from individual- to family- to neighborhood-level risks. Studies have identified child abuse and other childhood traumatic experiences as influences on gang membership. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) provide a framework for how to measure and identify these traumatic events. This dissertation study uses longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study (PYS) to inform the relationship between early life events and later gang membership. First, the count of total ACEs experienced by gang involved youth were compared to nongang youth. Then, latent class analysis was used to create groupings of ACEs to determine if particular classes of adverse events are associated with higher odds of gang membership during later adolescence. Using the longitudinal data structure of the PYS, additional latent classes were developed when breaking up the adversity into separate age ranges. ACE categories for the youngest cohort were able to be divided into early school entry (elementary school), early adolescence (middle school), and later adolescence (high school) due to their earlier age of first survey, and then these age-graded categories were added into the latent class model to determine if age specific adversity increased odds of gang membership. Lastly, covariates were added into the model to test if time-stable elements increased odds of belonging to one of the classes identified in the initial latent class analysis. The methods described above produced results, showing that gang involved youth have significantly more childhood adversity than nongang involved youth on average. When the latent class analysis was conducted, a three-class solution was found to be the most appropriate model, with classes with higher odds of adversity leading to greater odds of gang membership. There was no significant difference between two classes that had higher odds of adversity, though both included high rates of community violence experiences and parental separation. There were mixed findings on the impact of age specific adversity. Lastly, covariates were added into the model finding early school achievement plays a large role in predicting class membership, while familial financial strain does not. The findings from this dissertation have important implications for policy and practice around gang prevention and intervention in that they can help pinpoint constellations of risk factors. Evidence-based school intervention programs, such as The Fourth R-- an in-school intervention designed to reduce delinquency through positive relationship building with teachers, parents, and pro-social peers (Crooks et al., 2011)-- are important for reducing the odds of experiencing higher odds of adversity. Additionally, programs that work with youth who experience adversity can help reduce the hurt they perpetrate on others.
    • Mandatory School Vaccination Policies: Highlighting or Equalizing Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in School Children? Barriers, attitudes, and behaviors towards fulfilling requirements

      Jones, Nora L.; Strand, Nicolle K.; Reeves, Kathleen A.; Cabey, Vielka Whitney (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      With the rise of vaccine preventable illness in the US, the importance of timely vaccinations in children remains a priority. Mandatory school vaccination requirements are effective because they are generally accepted by the public, they allow schools and immunization programs to share resources, and they serve as a safety net to ensure all school children are immunized appropriately regardless of race, socioeconomic status (SES), or access to medical care2. However, it has repeatedly been shown that low-income, urban minority children have higher rates of underimmunization11-13, 15,16. The city of Philadelphia has a disproportionately large number of undervaccinated students compared to the rest of the state36. Philadelphia also has the highest poverty rate in the 10 largest cities of the US, and the majority of those living in poverty are minorities37. Given that the majority of Philadelphia students attend Philadelphia public schools, and of those students, greater than 75% are minorities, the disparity follows established trends39. Understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of guardians of students in the School District of Philadelphia regarding mandatory immunization requirements and their barriers to fulfilling mandatory requirements can help facilitate future compliance. Ultimately, this information can reduce the number of undervaccinated students in the city and bridge this gap dividing students along racial and SES lines.