Aimée Delaney, Worcester State University – Norms of Violence

Violence has a negative effect on youth.

Aimée Delaney, associate professor of criminal justice at Worcester State University, examines this statement.

Dr. Delaney specializes in the study of violence and victimization, with a focus on juvenile crime, risk behaviors and risk factors among youth, the victimization of youth, and family and community violence. Her book, Norms of Violence: Violent Socialization Processes and the Spillover Effect for Youth Crime, propels an integrated theory of social control and culture of violence arguing that violent socialization processes, in combination with national level indicators of violence, contribute to a norm of violence which spills over into other dimensions of society and is associated with youthful criminal behavior. This book provides a unique offering to the international study of youth behavior, by focusing on both victimization and offending, rather than arguing solely that victimization is a correlate of youth crime. Dr. Delaney’s research has also been published in Criminal Justice Review, International Criminal Justice Review, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Current Perspectives on Family Research, Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, and several criminal justice related encyclopedias. She has made more than 40 research and professional presentations, regularly presenting her research at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology. As the primary evaluator on a $1.25M Drug Free Community Grant for the Raymond Coalition for Youth, she developed more than five different Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (high school and middle school levels) and analyzed data obtained from these surveys. She has written several policy publications and monographs related to work on this Drug Free Community Grant. Prior to working in academia, Dr. Delaney worked for over 10 years in the criminal and juvenile justice systems within the State of New Hampshire. Dr. Delaney is trained in forensic interviewing, batterer’s intervention, and alternative conflict resolution.

Norms of Violence

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My research focuses on the impact of violence-based contexts that spill over into multiple domains of society.  One context is the normalization of violent methods to control societal members’ behaviors.  These normalized pro-violent methods of control often occur under the auspices of conflict resolution. 

For example, telling youth to use violence to resolve conflicts with other youth is one manifestation of a violent method for socializing youth.  Informal violent socialization tends to be more prevalent among nations that hold formal structural-based norms for violent social control.  And both of these indicators of violent social control are associated with increased deviant, criminal, and violent behavior. 

The spillover of formal and informal norms not only results in creating normative violence within a nation, but produces a victimizing effect. From a micro-level perspective, youth are traumatized by violence-based experiences.  From a macro-level perspective, violence-based experiences increase youths’ acting out behaviors and this exasperates victimization within society.  This combination contributes to norms of violence. 

The victimization-crime paradox of norms of violence is an intricate web of both formal and informal social control at varying levels and domains of society that fail to control behavior.  Efforts by policy makers and legal advocates to create preventative measures must concurrently implement supports within the family to alter violent socialization while addressing nation-based changes to reduce the conditions of structural support for violence as social control. 

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