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Risk factors indicate elevated potential for violence; protective factors indicate reduced potential of taking part in violent behavior. Non-PTSD risk factors that are related to increased risk of violence include alcohol and/or drug misuse, reporting co-occurring conditions, younger age, male gender, lower socio-economic status, and having housing or financial problems (1-3,7-9). Among Veterans, witnessing or committing crimes in childhood and higher levels of combat exposure have also been associated with increased risk of violence (7,9-11).
Assessing and managing the risk of violence is a core task of professionals working in mental health and criminal justice services. Psychologists, psychiatrists, police, prison staff, managers, nurses, social workers, probation officers are just some of the professions involved in minimising risk of harm. Violence risk assessment and management occupies a central role in legislation and features in the Care Programme Approach, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, and Dangerous Offender Legislation.
Adolescents who have weak social ties -- that is, who are not involved in conventional social activities and are unpopular at school -- are at high risk of becoming violent, as are adolescents with antisocial, delinquent peers. These two types of peer relationships often go together, since adolescents who are rejected by or unpopular with conventional peers may find acceptance only in antisocial or delinquent peer groups. Social isolation -- having neither conventional nor antisocial friends -- is not a risk factor for violence, however (Cairns & Cairns, 1991; Elliott & Menard, 1996; Fergusson & Lynskey, 1996; Patterson & Yoerger, 1997). A third risk factor with a large effect size on violence is belonging to a gang. Gang membership increases the risk of violence.
Our principal finding was that there was heterogeneity in the performance of these measures depending on the purpose of the risk assessment. If used to inform treatment and management decisions, then these instruments performed moderately well in identifying those individuals at higher risk of violence and other forms of offending. However, if used as sole determinants of sentencing, and release or discharge decisions, these instruments are limited by their positive predictive values: 41% of people judged to be at moderate or high risk by violence risk assessment tools went on to violently offend, 23% of those judged to be at moderate or high risk by sexual risk assessment tools went on to sexually offend, and 52% of those judged to be at moderate or high risk by generic risk assessment tools went on to commit any offence.
Women with HIV may be at risk of violence.