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Correlates of Reduced Misconduct Among Adolescents Facing Adversity

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 32 Issue: 6 Dated: December 2003 Pages: 439-452
Jennifer A. Schmidt
Daniel Offer
Date Published
December 2003
14 pages
This study explored how moderate daily challenges may influence levels of misconduct among adolescents.
Adolescent misconduct has been identified as a precursor to less desirable personal, social, and developmental pathways. With this understanding, it would be advisable to identify and understand the many factors that contribute to, as well as prevent misconduct and other risk behaviors among adolescents. This study examined the association between engagement in daily challenges and school misconduct in a sample of adolescents. It examined whether opportunity, engagement, and success served to moderate the impact of adversity on adolescent misconduct, and explored ways in which opportunity, action, and experience might prevent misconduct among adolescents in general. Data were collected from a national longitudinal study of adolescent development and consisted of 495 adolescents in 1992-1993 (year 1), 1993-1994 (year 2), and 1994-1995 (year 3). The report indicates that opportunity, engagement, and success in daily challenges are associated with reduced misconduct, particularly among adolescents who face substantial adversities at home or in school. High adversity adolescents with a greater number of extracurricular opportunities and those who perceive greater success in dealing with daily challenges evidenced significant reductions in misconduct over a 3-year period. Future research is suggested in the examination and clarification of the mechanisms underlying the observed relationship between challenge and misconduct, and in the expansion of the array of outcomes of interest to test for association between challenge and other indicators of adolescent well-being. Tables and references