Protecting Youth from Harm


Project Details

  • Principal Investigator: Sarah Stoddard,  PhD, RN, CNP
  • Co-Investigator: Tom Reischl, PhD, UM SPH
  • Project Dates: 2011-present
  • Funding Source: University of Michigan Injury Center


Youth violence is a significant public health problem that affects the health and well-being of not only the individual adolescent, but also their families and communities. Violence puts young people at risk of injury, disability and untimely death. In addition, violence places young people at risk for not completing the developmental tasks of adolescents and growing into healthy productive adults. Research in youth violence includes the identification of factors that increase or decrease the likelihood that an adolescent will engage in violent behaviors. Hope for the future, and a sense of purpose and meaning in life have the potential to function as promotive factors (factors that decrease the likelihood of violent behavior). Yet, little is known about their relationship to violent attitudes or violent behaviors. This study will examine hope, purpose and meaning as promotive factors for youth violence in a convenience sample of 7th grade urban youth (n = 300) from Genesee County. Collected data will be used to test a mediational conceptual model that links hope, purpose, and meaning with violent behaviors through their effects on attitudes about violence. Differences in the conceptual model by gender and by level of parental support will be investigated as well.

This project focuses on the CDC priority area of youth violence and the identification of modifiable factors that protect youth from becoming perpetrators of violence. It is innovative as it will be the first to examine the association between these potential promotive factors and youth violence. It will contribute to the long term goal of developing an intervention to promote the development of hope, purpose, and meaning in youth to reduce violence and other risk behaviors.

For more information, visit the Pathways 4 Youth  Research Team website