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Crime and Victimization Among Hispanic Adolescents: A Multilevel Longitudinal Study of Acculturation and Segmented Assimilation

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2010
110 pages
This study is designed to examine how acculturation among Hispanic youth relates to involvement in crime and victimization experiences.
Findings indicate that generational status exerts a significant effect on all modeled outcomes. Second and sometimes third-generation Hispanics are more likely to report both offending and victimization compared to first-generation Hispanics. Few neighborhood differences were found. However, several individual-level characteristics were associated with crime and victimization. Exposure to delinquent peers and low self-control were predictive across outcomes, but were often unable to mediate the influence of generational status. Linguistic assimilation was unable to predict outcomes other than the frequency of offending, while victimization and offending did not vary significantly across neighborhoods. The authors draw from segmented assimilation theory, which combines elements of neighborhood structure and social processes with individual-level assimilation indicators, to explore variation in delinquency and victimization, suggesting that immigrant youth acculturate differentially depending on where they reside. Those who acculturate within disadvantaged, inner-city contexts are more likely to experience downward assimilation, i.e. more involvement in crime, while those acculturating in neighborhoods with high immigrant concentration are less likely to experience downward assimilation because of the protective factors associated with ethnic enclaves. The authors used longitudinal data collected on three adolescent cohorts residing in various neighborhoods from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, data derived from self-reports and primary caregivers, and neighborhood social characteristics from the U.S. Census and a community survey of neighborhoods. Due to the fact that most outcome measures did not significantly vary across neighborhoods, single-level logistic and negative binomial regression models that appropriately take into account the nesting of individuals within neighborhoods were used. The analytic framework allowed assessment of the influence of neighborhood conditions, assimilation status, and individual-level measures of criminal involvement and victimization.

Date Published: November 1, 2010