Once believed to be a poor inner city neighborhood characteristic, youth violence and crime are now recognized as problems in rural areas as well (Osgood and Chambers 2000). Studies on their etiology remain scarce, particularly with a focus on minority youth. Given the importance of individual characteristics and a positive future orientation (educational aspirations) during adolescence, the current study tested a riskprotective factor approach with measures of risk proneness, self-esteem, educational commitment, and educational expectations to predict both direct and “indirect” measures of violence and criminal behaviors (assault, encounters with law enforcement, and court appearances) in samples of rural (n=687) and non-rural (n=182) African American youth. Results show that self-esteem, risk-proneness, and educational commitment were highly associated with measures of violent and criminal behaviors in both samples. Importantly, no differences were found in how risk or protective factors were associated with measures of violence and crime in rural and non-rural developmental contexts.

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