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Peer Group Revisited: A Network Approach for Understanding Adolescent Delinquency

NCJ Number
Date Published
186 pages
This research thesis confirms the author's premise that there is a relationship between peers and delinquency, as contained in the results of the Adolescent Health Survey. It examines whether peer group structure and composition are associated with patterns of delinquency, such as age of greatest influence by peers, influence of egocentric peer network on delinquent behavior, peer influence on property-related and violent offending, as well as the influence of the school.
This research thesis seeks to improve current science by providing a systematic empirical basis for the investigation of the ways in which peer groups influence delinquent behavior. It uses results from the Adolescent Health Survey data to address these issues. Multilevel modeling techniques are used to analyze the results. Findings indicate peer group delinquency is strongly associated with an adolescent's own delinquency whether it be property-related or violent offending; characteristics of the adolescent's egocentric friendship network influence the delinquency-peer group association; early adolescence is when delinquent peers have the strongest influence on a delinquent's behavior; and school characteristics are associated with average delinquency involvement but rarely influence delinquency-peer group association. Tables, appendixes

Date Published: January 1, 1999