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Dissolving Borders: Reframing Risk, Delinquent Peers, and Youth Violence
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  • Alternative Title:
    Child Youth Serv Rev
  • Description:
    Although "association with delinquent peers" is commonly identified as "a risk factor for youth violence," this framework leads us to blame individuals and ignore the complex lives of youth who face state, symbolic, and interpersonal violence. This study is based on interviews with young adults about their adolescence in a low-income immigrant gateway neighborhood of Oakland, California. Most of the interviewees have peer networks that are racially/ethnically diverse and also include both delinquent and conforming peers. We show that having these "doubly diverse" friendship networks helps youth move through their neighborhood safely and feel anchored to their community even when they leave to attend college. Even successful youth in our study do not erect borders between themselves and "delinquent peers." It is easy to assign blame to youth for their friendships, their violent behavior, their lack of education, their unstable and low-paying jobs, but this calculus ignores both the structural factors that constrain youth choices and the benefits that seem to be linked to diverse friendships, even with delinquent peers. Growing up in a site of global capital accumulation and disinvestment in the era of neoliberalism, our interviewees challenge us to reframe risk.

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