From Insult to Injury: How Disputes Begin and Escalate among Adolescents and Young Adults in Medellin, Colombia

Luis F. Duque, Nilton E. Montoya


Abstract: This article aims to contribute to the understanding of circumstances, causes of initiation, and process of escalation of physical disputes or fights resulting in physical injury. We analyzed data from a case-control study of perpetrators of violence between the ages of 15 to 24 (n=373) in the city of Medellín, Colombia. The findings show that 89% of conflicts resulting in injury took place in public places and most often involved males (78%). Six percent involved the consumption of alcohol, 20% reported having used illicit drugs before the initiation of the confrontation. Circa 50% of disputes began because of verbal aggression. Alcohol consumption was found to be associated with verbal aggression towards a friend or companion but not to other circumstances that start disputes. Drug use was not associated with the initiation of disputes. In 18.5% of the cases, a weapon was used while 5% of these disputes ended in a homicide. In none of the cases in which homicide was the outcome was there bystander intervention. In contrast, homicide did not result in the cases in which bystanders intervened.


Youth violence, disputes, fights, conflicts, Colombia

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ISSN: 1929-4409