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A Multi-City Assessment of Juvenile Delinquency in the U.S.: A Continuation and Expansion of the International Self-Report Delinquency Study

Award Information

Award #
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Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $252,698)

Project Goals and Objectives: The proposed study builds and expands upon the experiences of the first large scale International Self-Report Delinquency Study (ISRD-1) on the prevalence, incidence and correlates of youth crime conducted in 1991-1992 in 12 European countries and the U.S. The proposed study (ISRD-2) will be part of an international collaborative effort to repeat the ISRD-1 in 30 countries, including the United States in 2006-2008. The current grant application is for the U.S. portion of the ISRD-2. The following major objectives will be independently assessed in each participating country and jointly analyzed through pooled cross-national survey data. They include: (1) to estimate the prevalence and incidence of youthful offending; (2) to examine the correlates of youthful crime and different explanations of crime (e.g., social bonding, self control, life style and routine activities); (3) to describe the dimensions of delinquent trajectories (e.g., age of onset, frequency, chronicity); (4) to examine the social response to juvenile misbehavior; (5) to assess the relative importance of micro-level (individual), meso-level (school and neighbourhood), and macro-level (city and country) variables for self-report delinquency and its correlates; (6) to analyze the methodological implications in cross-national survey research; and (7) to develop repeat studies to measure trends in youth delinquent behavior over time.

Research Design and Methodology: The ISRD-2 is explicitly comparative by design. The 30 participating countries will use common standardized data collection instruments and procedures, comparable sampling designs, and will work closely together in data management and analysis. In each country, a minimum of 5 cities will be selected: a large city or metropolitan area, a mid-size city, and a cluster of 3 small towns. The 7th to 9th grade classrooms in each of these five cities/towns will provide the sampling frames for the survey of 2,100 students. A stratified multi-stage sampling procedure will be applied to sites selected for the study. The method of administration is self-administered pencil and paper questionnaire completed in a classroom setting. In addition to the self-report individual level data (including student assessment of neighborhood and school), city and national level indicators will be collected and used in the multi-level cross-national analyses.

Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts: The ISRD-2 study offers the benefits of both standardized methodology and flexibility of culture-specific investigations. First, the cross-national comparative design survey will allow us to assess both the convergence and the divergence of self-reported delinquency in 30 industrialized western nations. This design will help us to look beyond methodology and focus more on the substantive cross-national differences in the various dimensions of juvenile offending, and on the relative impact of family, school, and social structure. Second, through cross-cultural comparisons, we will acquire more knowledge about the stable correlates of crime. The most significant correlates of juvenile delinquency will be identified and implications for more effective intervention strategies will be drawn. Third, the current study will pave the way for repeated studies in the future, which will enable us to measure international trends in youth delinquent behavior over time. And lastly, the research results will be disseminated to a wider audience beyond the academic circle, including, but not limited to the national governments, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.


Date Created: September 13, 2006