Municipal-Level Variations in Violent Behavior among Norwegian Adolescents and its Association to Health-Risk Behaviors, Familial Predictors, and Municipal Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Multilevel Study using Ungdata Survey 2014-2016
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Violence perpetration among adolescents is a global public health and social problem. The prevalence of adolescent violence perpetration in Norway is lower than most countries in Europe. However, the occurrence persisted significantly in less severe forms of perpetration. Few studies have investigated regional variations in prevalence of adolescent violent behavior and its associates. Hence, the study examined municipal-level variations in prevalence of violent behavior among Norwegian adolescents. Based on a socio-ecological model, it investigated the variation in individual factors of health-risk behaviors, familial predictors and municipal-level characteristics associated to variation in violent behavior across municipalities. The study results may be an essential input for policy makers to design area-specific policies and intervention strategies to reduce its prevalence. The study particularly employed a cross-sectional design and used data from the Ungdata cross national survey 2014-2016. It included adolescents from lower secondary school (N=119346) nested within 309 municipalities. The multilevel (two-level) logistic regression result showed that 1.58% of the variability in presence of violence lies between municipalities. The prevalence estimates of violent behavior indicated a small variation between municipalities. All individual and familial factors were associated with the odds of the presence of violent behavior, i.e. alcohol, cigarette, snus, hash, marijuana and cannabis use; depressive symptoms; parental control and parents’ financial status. Of municipal-level factors, a high proportion of higher education accomplishment was the only significant factor associated with violent behavior. Municipal factors, to a slight extent, explained the small variation in violent behavior across municipalities, but the individual and familial factors did not explain the differences. The multilevel logistic regression model which included all levels of socio-ecological factors provided the best fit to predict violent behavior. Considering the small variations in violent behavior across municipalities, the study suggests a greater emphasis on violence prevention focusing on individual characteristics of health-risk behaviors and microsystem influencers of familial predictors than of exosystem, i.e. municipal characteristics. Further studies should examine longitudinal effects and other associates of violent behavior that were not addressed in the study.
Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy