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Title:The influence of family and friends on girls' delinquency: a social network analysis
Author(s):Delarue, Lisa
Director of Research:Espelage, Dorothy L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Espelage, Dorothy L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, Carolyn J.; Rounds, James; Van Ryzin, Mark
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):social network
Abstract:This study builds on research that has been conducted around predictive factors of girls’ delinquency by applying social network methodology to principles of adolescent development. Peers are an integral aspect of adolescent development and therefore the influence of peer relationships serves as an important area of exploration in delinquency research. While studies have documented the influence of peers on delinquency, these studies have been limited in that they rely on individual level self-reports and do not take into account the socialization process of peers. This study utilized Social Network Analysis (SNA), a technique that enables researchers to examine this socialization process by disentangling the effects of peer selection and influence. Participants included 401 students from a high school in Illinois. The sample includes youth who predominantly identify as African American (32.4%) or White (38.7%). The aims of this study were to identify risk and protective factors that correlate with self-reported delinquency for adolescent girls, including family, individual, and peer level factors and to investigate whether and how peer group socialization of female delinquency can be captured/understood through SNA. The analyses included a longitudinal regression analysis utilizing imputed data to examine risk and protective factors that correlate with delinquency behaviors, and a SNA to explore the social network of the students in order to distinguish the effects of friendship selection and influence on girls’ delinquency. The findings of this study provide additional insight into the etiology of delinquency and suggest pathways by which prevention programs might be optimized. Results of the regression analysis demonstrate previous levels of delinquency and substance use, and current feelings of anger and hostility and lower levels of parental monitoring are risk factors for increased levels of delinquency for girls. Furthermore, the SNA analysis revealed that peer selection is an important component of delinquency engagement for youth after accounting for levels of anger and hostility and parental monitoring. Specifically, youth tend to select individuals as friends that are engaging in similar levels of delinquency as themselves. The results of this study suggest interventions focused on changing behavior may lead to positive changes in the social network. With significant selection effects, when youth desist from engaging in delinquent behavior, it can be expected they will affiliate with different peers, and perhaps, with those peers engaging in less delinquency. As such, interventions that address risk factors including feelings of anger and hostility, and work to increase protective factors like parental monitoring, may help youth manage their concerns and support young people in changing their behaviors and subsequently shifting their peer networks to include friends who are engaged in lower levels of delinquency.
Issue Date:2015-04-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Lisa Delarue
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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