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Participation in and Frequency of Delinquent Behavior: A Test for Structural Differences

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 6 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1990) Pages: 335-356
Date Published
22 pages
National Youth Survey data collected in 1976 and 1977 do not support the idea that distinguishing between the participation and frequency dimensions of a criminal career is a fundamental requirement for conducting sound research on the causes of crime and delinquency.
A national probability sample of 11- to 17-year-olds was surveyed, and the association between participation in and frequency of delinquency was examined using 12 variables drawn from extant theory and research. Three variables (urban residency, hard drug use, and fatherlessness) were found to be unrelated to participation and frequency. Six variables (gender, age, exposure to delinquent peers, degree of family involvement, level of alcohol consumption, and past offending) were found to be significantly related to both dimensions. Three variables (race, size of household, and degree of social isolation) were found to impact frequency but not participation. Results indicate that it would be premature to conclude that a general propensity towards delinquency can explain both participation and frequency, or that such an explanation would require two separate theories. 7 tables and 20 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1990