Skip to main content

Race, Ethnicity, Risky Lifestyles, and Violent Victimization: A Test of a Mediation Model

Arelys Madero-Hernandez & Bonnie S. Fisher

Empirical studies have established that Blacks and Hispanics are two of the most violently victimized racial/ethnic groups in the United States, but the mechanisms that underlie these disparities in victimization risk are not well understood. This study tests a mediation model developed from criminal opportunity theories that may explain the disparities. Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, the results show that Black and Hispanic adolescents were twice as likely as their White counterparts to be violently victimized, and these disparities remained after controlling for demographic characteristics and prior victimization. As to the hypothesized sources of these disparities, there was mixed evidence regarding the mediation model. Although risky lifestyles were significantly related to violent victimization and eliminated all disparities between Black and White youth, they failed to eliminate victimization disparities between Hispanics and White youth. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of theory and victimization prevention.