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Callous-unemotional traits up risk of gun carrying, use during crime

21 Jun 2020
Gun violence is responsible for tens of thousands of death and billions of dollars lost annually.

Research in gun violence should consider callous-unemotional traits because these traits increase gun carrying and use in adolescents and may moderate other key risk factors, suggests a recent study.

The authors analysed the role that callous-unemotional traits play in the risk for gun carrying and use during a crime in a sample of individuals at high risk for such violence, with the addition of the “with limited prosocial emotions” specifier within the diagnosis of conduct disorder (DSM-5) and of conduct-dissocial disorder (ICD-11) to designate those with elevated callous-unemotional traits.

This study assessed male juvenile 1,215 offenders from three regions of the US after their first arrest. Offenders were then reassessed every 6 months for 36 months and again at 48 months. The authors measured callous-unemotional traits and peer gun carrying and ownership via self-report after the first arrest (ie, baseline). Gun carrying and use during a crime were self-reported at all follow-up points.

Callous-unemotional traits at baseline correlated with greater frequency of gun carrying and higher probability of using a gun during a crime across the subsequent 4 years after accounting for other risk factors. In addition, these traits moderated the association between peer gun carrying and ownership and participant gun carrying, such that only those with low callous-unemotional traits showed increased gun carrying as a function of their peers’ gun carrying and ownership.

“Notably, the influence of peer gun carrying and ownership may have been underestimated in past research for the majority of adolescents by not considering the moderating influence of callous-unemotional traits,” the authors said.

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Jairia Dela Cruz, Yesterday
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