A latest study suggests that gun violence, which is a contagious social epidemic, spreads in a community through social networks, and it often involves economically disadvantaged individuals.

Investigation Of Social Networks Of People Arrested

A team of researchers led by Andrew Papachristos, associate professor of sociology at Yale, performed a study to find the likelihood of a person becoming the prey of gun violence. They used an epidemiological model to study the role of interpersonal ties in the trails through which gun violence spreads in the United States.

The researchers investigated the social networks of people who were arrested between Jan. 1, 2006 and Mar. 31, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. These networks were used to find the connection between other people who were arrested together for the same crime. The network was comprised of 138,163 individuals, who were arrested in the given span of 8 years.

It was revealed from the study findings that these participants were 27 years old, on average, mostly black males who were often members of a gang. It was also found that more than 60 percent of all the gun violence incidents that took place in the 8 years long period were parts of a cascade of events or more like a chain reaction.

Shifting Gun Violence From Criminal Justice Paradigm To Public Health

Papachristos stated that by finding the likelihood of a person becoming victim to gun violence, would help reveal the epidemic of gun violence in a public health context and take it out of the criminal justice paradigm. Dealing gun violence in a public health perspective would help in focusing on victims and reducing the trauma.

Getting to know the patterns and timings of these violent events could be used to spot the victims. The information about these networks could also provide possible opportunities for interventions like insertion of violence reduction programs or harm reduction programs in these networks.

"If we want to drop gun violence rates in this country, we have to care about the young men with criminal records who become victims of gun violence," said Papachristos, in a press release. "By and large these are young men of color who have criminal records. Their lives are worth saving."

Gun Violence: A Contagious Social Epidemic Transmitted Through Social Networks

The research indicated that the gun violence was a gradually spreading social epidemic which is transmitted through the social networks of people. The people in these social networks were found to be at high risk of being shot within the duration of around 125 days. It was found that a person responsible for exposing the target to gun violence soon became the target of gun violence himself.

Studying the pattern and timing of such incidents could really help in violence prevention efforts. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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