A Secondary Spatial Analysis of Gun Violence near Boston Schools: a Public Health Approach

Category: Crime, Firearm Availability, Youth|Journal: Journal of Urban Health (full text)|Author: G Barboza|Posted On: January 01,2018

School neighborhood violence continues to be a major public health problem among urban students. A large body of research addresses violence at school; however, fewer studies have explored concentrations of violence in areas proximal to schools. This study aimed to quantify the concentration of shootings near schools to elucidate the place-based dynamics that may be focal points for violence prevention. Geocoded databases of shooting and school locations were used to examine locational patterns of firearm shootings and elementary, middle, and high schools in Boston, Massachusetts. Analyses utilized spatial statistics for point pattern data including distance matrix and K function methodology to quantify the degree of spatial dependence of shootings around schools. Results suggested that between 2012 and 2015, there were 678 shooting incidents in Boston; the average density was 5.1 per square kilometer. The nearest neighbor index (NNI = 0.335 km, p < .001, O = 0.95 km, E = 0.28 km) and G function analysis revealed a clustered pattern of gun shooting incidents indicative of a spatially non-random process. The mean and median distance from any school to the nearest shooting location was 0.35 and 0.33 km, respectively. A majority (56%, 74/133) of schools in Boston had at least one shooting incident within 400 m, a distance that would take about 5 min to walk if traveling by foot. The bivariate K function indicated that a significantly greater number of shootings were clustered within short distances from schools than would be expected under a null hypothesis of no spatial dependence. Implications for students attending schools in racially homogenous neighborhoods across all income levels are discussed.