Juvenile Justice Volume: II Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring/Summer 1994) Pages: 2-8
Longitudinal surveys of high-risk youths in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester underscored the link between juvenile drug use and delinquency.
These surveys measured delinquent behavior, drug use, family demographic characteristics, community and neighborhood characteristics, parental attitudes and childrearing practices, attitudes toward school, perceptions of the consequences of delinquency, and conventional and delinquent activities of peers. Findings of more than 60,000 interviews showed that alcohol abuse began at an early age, while marijuana and other drug use began later. Street crimes also began at an early age, and roughly half the subjects between 13 and 17 years of age had engaged in sexual intercourse. Researchers distinguished three separate developmental pathways (authority, covert, and overt) and determined that the risk of violent offending was greater when children had been physically abused or neglected early in life. A strong correlation existed between delinquency and illegal gun ownership, and affiliation with street gangs was also a delinquency factor when the affiliation endured. Youth who were not highly committed to school in one year had higher rates of street crime in the following year. Delinquent children had poorer reading skills than nondelinquent children, and poor family life exacerbated delinquency and drug use. Employment did not necessarily prevent youths from becoming delinquent. Implications of the survey findings for juvenile delinquency prevention programs are discussed. 7 references
Date Published: April 1, 1994