Protective factors for violence perpetration in Somali young adults: The role of community belonging and neighborhood cohesion

B. Heidi Ellis, Saida M. Abdi, Alisa B. Miller, Matthew T. White, Alisa K. Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine violence perpetration among Somali young adults and the potential for community belonging and neighborhood cohesion to serve as protective influences. Method: Somalis (N = 374) living in 4 North America cities completed verbally administered standardized instruments assessing trauma, neighborhood cohesion, Somali belongingness, and violence perpetration. Results: Younger age and greater time in the U.S./Canada were independently associated with increased odds of violence perpetration, and those who had experienced high levels of trauma (as compared with those with moderate or low trauma exposure) were significantly more likely to commit violence. Furthermore, higher Somali community belonging was associated with a significant reduction in the odds of violence perpetration when neighborhood cohesion was low but an increased odds of violence perpetration when cohesion was high. Conclusions: Neighborhood cohesion and community belonging are both important factors in relation to youth violence. In the context of low neighborhood cohesion, Somali communities may benefit from examining ways of bringing alienated youth back into the community. Efforts to reengage with ostracized youth and extend the same kind of protective cultural resources that benefit those youth who experience higher levels of belonging may be beneficial to both the youth and the communities in which they live.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-392
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Psychological Association.


  • community belonging
  • community violence
  • neighborhood cohesion
  • refugee trauma
  • violence perpetration


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