Seriousness of Violence Classification—Pittsburgh Youth Study

The Pittsburgh Youth Study is a longitudinal study that examines the seriousness of violence and its effects on young people. The study began in 1987 and has followed a cohort of over 1,000 boys from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from ages 8 to 18. The study focuses on the development of aggressive behavior in boys, and has collected data on a wide range of social and psychological factors, including family structure, school achievement, peer relationships, and mental health. The study has found that the severity of violent behavior increases with age, and that it is associated with a variety of risk factors, including poverty, family instability, and mental health issues. The findings from the Pittsburgh Youth Study have been used to inform policy decisions and interventions to reduce the prevalence of violence in youth populations.
In the past six months …
No Yes
1. Have you been involved in a gang fight?
2. Have you used a weapon‚ force‚ or strong-arm methods to get money or things from people?
3. Have you attacked someone with a weapon or with the idea of seriously hurting or killing them?
4. Have you physically hurt or threatened to hurt someone to get them to have sex with you?
5. Have you had or tried to have sexual relations with someone against their will?
These items measure the highest level of violence a youth reached during the previous 6 months or 1 year. Youth are asked to indicate if they have been involved in a gang fight‚ used weapons‚ physically hurtsomeone‚ etc.
  • gang fight
  • physically hurt someone
This instrument can be found on page 183 of Measuring Violence-Related Attitudes‚ Behaviors‚ and Influences Among Youths: A Compendium of Assessment Tools‚ available online
No=0‚ Yes=1
Point values for each subscale are assigned as follows:
The construct has a starting value of 0.
If the answer to Question 1 is “yes‚” set the construct to 1.
If the answer to Question 2 is “yes‚” set the construct to 2.
If the answer to Question 3‚ 4 or 5 is “yes‚” set the construct to 3.
High scores indicate more serious violence (gang fighting‚ forcible theft‚ attack‚ forced sex‚ or coerced sex).

Loeber R‚ Farrington DP‚ Stouthamer-Loeber M‚ Van Kammen WB. Antisocial behavior and mentalhealth problems: explanatory factors in childhoodand adolescence. Mahwah‚ NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates‚ 1998.