Degree Granting Department
Ellis Gesten, Ph.D.
Judith Becker Bryant, Ph.D.
Michael Brannick, Ph.D.
resilience, schools, externalizing behaviors, assets, interactions
Longitudinal studies that track individuals from childhood into adulthood may be
the best method to identify risk and protective factors for crime and delinquency. The
primary goals of this study were to determine 1) the ability of risk factors identified by
the end of elementary school to predict delinquency referrals, 2) the extent to which
positive assets (promotive factors) add to the prediction of delinquency, and 3) potential
interactions between these risk and promotive factors that moderate the relationship
between risk and delinquency referrals. The final purpose was to identify gender and
racial differences in these relationships. The current study utilized archival data from a
large metropolitan Florida school district which tracked students who began kindergarten
in the 1989-90 school year for as long as they remained in the district.
After controlling for gender, race, and SES, fifth grade teacher rated externalizing
behaviors, prenatal smoking, parent marital status, and mother’s years of education
significantly predicted delinquency referrals. The biological factors birth weight and
Apgar score were not related to delinquency referrals in correlation or regression models.
Additionally, the combination of the nine potential promotive factors was found to
contribute to a significant increase in variance above that accounted for by the three
control factors and nine risk factors. The most consistently supported promotive factor
was parental acceptance/involvement. Although no interaction effects were found in the
overall model, when analyzed by gender, two significant interactions were found for
females. These interactions were between parents’ martial status and parental acceptance
involvement as well as third grade standardized reading scores and parent educational
involvement. Findings suggest that, even when using a stringent test of significance, risk
factors assessed between birth and the end of elementary school can be used to predict
the number of subsequent delinquency referrals.
In conclusion, results from this study not only identify and confirm early risk
factors for later delinquency involvement, but also implicate potential positive assets that
may buffer the impact of early risk factors. These findings can inform early intervention
programs aimed at reducing rates of juvenile delinquency, by identifying criteria for early
identification as well as components of effective prevention/intervention.
Scholar Commons Citation
Green, Amy E., "Predicting Delinquency in Adolescence and Young Adulthood: A Longitudinal Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors" (2006). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.