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Taking Stock: An Overview of Findings From the Rochester Youth Development Study

NCJ Number
T P Thornberry; M D Krohn; A J Lizotte; C A Smith
Date Published
53 pages
The Rochester Youth Development Study is discussed with respect to its theoretical framework, research methods, and major empirical findings; this longitudinal study focuses on the causes and consequences of juvenile delinquency.
The study began in 1986 and continues to study the life course development of its sample members. The research prosocial and antisocial development and the causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency, with a particular focus on serious, chronic juvenile offenders. The overall study design was guided by two theoretical models: interactional theory and network theory. The study uses a longitudinal research design to follow a panel of 1,000 juveniles from their 7th and 8th grade years in the Rochester, N.Y., public schools through their early adult years. The researchers have collected 12 waves of data spanning ages 13-22 so far; wave 12 reached 846 of the initial 1,000 participants. Information has been collected by means of interviews with each participant and a primary caretaker. Results have indicated that several family process variables relate to delinquency. In addition, social and family structural variables are indirectly related to delinquency through their effect on these family process variables. Moreover, the relationship between family process variables and delinquency is reciprocal; over time, the impact of family process variables on delinquency fades, whereas the impact of delinquency on family processes appears to remain. Results also indicated that the school is an important domain for understanding adolescent behavior. Additional findings focused on peer influences, juvenile gangs, and violence. Overall, findings indicated no one single risk factor for juvenile delinquency. Instead, an accumulation of risk factors put children at risk for many co-occurring problem behaviors. Findings indicated that prevention programs need to be both comprehensive and long-term. The study's third phase will examine further issues and relationships. 37 references