The color of friendship : gender, race/ethnicity, and the relationships between friendship and delinquency

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The color of friendship : gender, race/ethnicity, and the relationships between friendship and delinquency

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Title: The color of friendship : gender, race/ethnicity, and the relationships between friendship and delinquency
Author: Worthen, Meredith Gwynne Fair
Abstract: Studies investigating the etiology of delinquent involvement have pointed to two influential theories: Differential Association Theory and Social Control Theory. Both theories suggest that bonding can impact delinquent behavior. Strong friend relationships influence delinquent involvement while strong parental relationships serve as a positive influence in the curtailment of adolescent delinquency. Indeed, a great deal of research has shown that both friends and families are an integral part of adolescent delinquent involvement. Although these theories provide us with a framework for understanding adolescent delinquency, the contextual nuances of the connections among friend relationships, parental relationships, and delinquency are still unclear. In this project, I investigate the gender and race/ethnicity of the respondent as well as the predominant race/ethnicity and gender of the respondents’ friendship networks to better understand how both friend and parent-child relationships affect adolescent delinquency. I utilize data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS). Results suggest that both friend relationships and parental relationships impact respondent delinquency; however, such effects differ by the gender and race/ethnicity of the respondent. Furthermore, the predominant race/ethnicity and predominant gender of the respondents’ friendship network appear to effect delinquent involvement for some groups and not others. The exploration of this topic provides a much-needed look into some understudied areas in human behavior. The long-standing tradition of investigating the role of peers in criminal offending has certainly examined the importance of family and the dynamics of friendships. However, few studies have incorporated both gender and race/ethnicity in their investigations into the relationship between friendships and delinquency. In addition, this study is unique in that it examines friendship network characteristics and how they relate to delinquency. Furthermore, this project explores how family and friend influences on delinquent behavior vary across different groups. Neither of these aspects have been adequately explored in past research. It is the purpose of this study to being to fill this gap in the literature and highlight how both gender and race/ethnicity influence involvement in delinquency.
Department: Sociology
Subject: Juvenile delinquency Friendship Parent-child relationship Gender differences Race/ethnicity
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/6645
Date: 2009-08

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