UTSA Research: Connection Between 'Food Insecurity' and Violence

As society struggles to find a cause for the violence that plagues society, from school shootings to random street crimes, research by a UTSA professor may help, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Dylan Jackson, a professor in UTSA's Department of Criminal Justice, says there is a clear connection between a family experiencing what is called 'food insecurity,' and the presence of violence in a child's life.

"When food is lacking in the household across a number of years, and a number of time points, the risk of violence went up almost 500%," he said.

Dr. Jackson's research, which was done in conjunction with three collaborators and recently published in a peer reviewed journal, doesn't directly link food insecurity to violence, but indicates that food insecurity leads to other pathologies that spark violence in the life of a young person, like domestic violence.

"Its a nationally representative sample, so it can be applied to the population of the United States," he said.  "It is also a longitudinal study, which means these individuals were followed for several years."

He says food insecurity as a child makes the child six times more likely to grow up to be a violent teenager, and a violent adult.

He says this indicates that violence should not be treated 'in a silo,' by itself, but any effort to deal with the violent society also should include a discussion of the causes of that violence.

"Maybe we need to think of these separate issues in terms of public policy like diet and violence as inter related," he said.

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