Printer Friendly

Effects of parenting, father absence, and affiliation with delinquent peers on delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents.

Delinquent behavior by African-American male adolescents is of special concern to society due to their overrepresentation in juvenile detention centers and adult prisons, morbidity and mortality statistics, and reports of academic underachievement (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2000; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2000; National Center for Health Statistics [NCHS], 2000; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). In 1997, African-American adolescents represented about 15% of the total U.S. adolescent population, but they represented 41% of juvenile delinquency cases involving detention and 52% of juvenile delinquency cases judicially waived to criminal court (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). In 1998, 47% of homicide victims in the 15.- to 19-year-old age group were African-American males (NCHS, 2000). The high rate of violence-related mortality is consistent with self-reports of violent behavior by African-American male students. In 1999, 44% of African-American male high school students reporte d that they had been in a physical fight in the past 12 months and 23% reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife, or club) at least once in the past 30 days (CDO, 2000). High rates of delinquent behavior on school property also have been reported by African-American male high school students (CDC, 2000), which has adversely affected their relationships with peers and teachers, led to a disproportionately high frequency of disciplinary actions, and contributed to persistent academic underachievement (Gibbs et al., 1988; NCES, 2000; Taylor, 1991). For these reasons, understanding and preventing delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents must be a priority.

Parenting

Research and theory suggest that parenting is an important determinant of delinquent behavior among adolescents in general (Baumrind, 1991; Hirschi, 1969; Jackson, Henriksen, & Foshee, 1998; Jessor & Jessor, 1977), and among young African-American males in particular (Mincy, 1994). Poor parental supervision and monitoring, harsh and! or inconsistent disciplinary practices, infrequent parent-adolescent communication, and poor parent-adolescent relations have been shown to be associated with higher levels of delinquency and aggression among adolescents in general (e.g., Clark & Shields, 1997; Mason et al., 1994; Patterson & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1984). However, relatively few studies have investigated the effects of these aspects of parenting specifically among African-American male adolescents (e.g., Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987; Griffin et al., 1999; McLoyd et al., 1994; Paschall, Ennett, & Flewelling, 1996).

Cernkovich and Giordano (1987) compared the effects of parental control and supervision to intimate parent-adolescent communication and relations and found parent control and supervision to be more strongly (and inversely) associated with delinquent behavior in a sample of African-American male 12- to 19-year-olds. Similarly, Griffin et al. (1999) found parental monitoring to be more strongly (and inversely) associated with substance use and delinquent behavior than parent-adolescent communication in a sample of African-American male adolescents; parent-adolescent communication was positively associated with delinquent behavior in their sample. In a study focusing on violent behavior by male adolescents, Paschall, Ennett, and Flewelling (1996) found no relationship between attachment to parents and violent behavior among African-American males. Thus, several studies focusing on African-American male adolescents (Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987; Griffin et al., 1999; Paschall, Ennett, & Flewelling, 1996) found no evidence for protective effects of parent-adolescent relations, as reflected in measures of attachment and communication, on delinquent behavior. However, due to the limited number of studies that have focused on young African-American males, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about which aspects of parenting are most important as deterrents of delinquent behavior.

The present study examines the effects of four aspects of parenting on African-American male adolescents' delinquent behavior: (1) mothers' monitoring of their sons' behavior, (2) mothers' perceived control over their sons' behavior, (3) mother-adolescent communication about school, friends, and behavior, and (4) mother-adolescent relations. We test the hypothesis that mothers' monitoring and perceived control will be more strongly associated with, and predictive of, delinquent behavior than mother-adolescent communication and relations. Our study focuses on parenting by mothers, as mothers are generally recognized as the primary caregivers of young African-American males (Gibbs et al., 1988; McLoyd et al., 1994; Mincy, 1994; Taylor, 1991). Our parenting measures are limited to data collected from mothers because analogous measures of parenting were not included in the adolescent survey instrument.

Father Absence

There has been a great deal of concern about the absence of fathers from African-American families and the negative effect this may have on the development of young African-American males (Gibbs et al., 1988; Mincy, 1994). Single African-American mothers often have limited financial resources, greater social isolation, and fewer coping resources than mothers in a two-parent family, which may limit their ability to monitor, supervise, and communicate effectively with their children (McLoyd et al., 1994; Taylor, 1991).

Not surprisingly, the majority of studies to date with a focus on African-American male adolescents and their families have examined the effects of living in a single-parent household (almost always mother-only) versus a two-parent household on delinquent behavior (e.g., Brounstein et al., 1989; Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987; Dornbusch et al., 1985; Ensminger, Kellam, & Rubin, 1983; Monahan, 1957; Paschall, Ennett, & Flewelling, 1996; Robins, West, & Herjanic, 1975; Sampson, 1987). Findings of these studies and others have been mixed and inconclusive, as indicated in one meta-analytic review (Wells & Rankin, 1991). For example, two studies using official law enforcement records (e.g., arrests, convictions) as measures of delinquency and crime found a positive relationship between living in a single-parent family and delinquency among African-American male adolescents (Monahan, 1957; Sampson, 1987), but one study using official law enforcement data found no such relationship (Robins, West, & Heijanic, 1975). Sev eral studies based on self-report measures of delinquency (Brounstein et al., 1989; Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987; Ensminger, Kellam, & Rubin, 1983) found no association between family structure (or father absence) and delinquent behavior reported by African-American male adolescents. These studies are contradicted by a larger study of delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents who participated in the 1966-1970 National Health Interview Survey (Dornbusch et al., 1985), and by a more recent study of violent behavior by Paschall, Ennett, and Flewelling (1996), both of which found a significant positive relationship between living in a single-parent family and delinquent behavior. The mixed and inconclusive findings of these studies indicate the need for additional research on the effects of father absence on delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents.

Griffin et al. (1999) examined the possible interactive effects of family structure and parenting practices on substance use and delinquent behavior in their sample of African-American adolescents. They found a stronger (and inverse) relationship between indicators of (1) parent monitoring (frequency of checking homework) and (2) parent-adolescent interaction (eating dinner with children) and delinquent behavior in single-parent than two-parent families. The present study investigates the possible moderating effects of father absence on relationships between measures of mothers' parenting and adolescents' delinquent behavior. We test the hypothesis that the effects of mothers' parenting on delinquent behavior will be stronger in families without a father or father surrogate.

Affiliation with Delinquent Peers

In addition to parenting and father absence, affiliation with delinquent peers may be an important determinant of delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents. However, few studies have investigated this relationship specifically with African-American males (Giordano, Cernkovich, & Pugh, 1986; Paschall & Hubbard, 1998). Giordano, Cernkovich, and Pugh (1986) found limited evidence for a relationship between delinquent friends and delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents. In contrast, Paschall and Hubbard (1998) found a strong association between friends' delinquent behavior and violent behavior among African-American males, and included friends' delinquent behavior in their latent measure of adolescents' propensity for violent behavior. However, both of these studies were cross-sectional and could not assess the causal nature of the relationship between peer affiliation and delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents. The present study extends this research by using longitudinal data to examine the effects of affiliation with delinquent peers on adolescents' delinquent behavior.

Problem behavior theory (Jessor & Jessor, 1977) and other models of adolescent delinquency (Brook & Brook, 1996; Kandel, 1996) propose that peer affiliation mediates the relationship between parenting and delinquent behavior. In the present study, we test this hypothesis by examining the effects of parenting measures on delinquent behavior before and after including our measure for affiliation with delinquent peers in the regression model (Baron & Kenny, 1986). We also examine the possible moderating effects of father absence on the relationship between peer affiliation and delinquent behavior. We hypothesize that the relationship will be stronger among adolescents living in families without fathers. Based on studies of adolescent substance use that have distinguished effects of peer selection from peer influence (Bauman & Ennett, 1996), and criticism of research that has not used data from both adolescents and their peers to estimate effects of peer influence (Kandel, 1996), we consider our measure of peer a ffiliation to be a measure of the adolescents' propensity to select and associate with delinquent peers rather than a measure of peer behavior and influence.

Hypotheses

We hypothesize that parental monitoring and perceived control will have greater effects on adolescents' delinquent behavior than will parent-adolescent communication and relations. We expect mothers' parenting to be more strongly associated with adolescents' behavior in families without fathers. We also hypothesize that affiliation with delinquent peers will mediate relationships between parenting measures and adolescent delinquency, and the relationship between peer affiliation and delinquent behavior will be stronger among adolescents living in families without fathers. This study advances previous research by using one round of survey data collected from African-American mothers (or mother surrogates) that is linked with two rounds of data collected from their adolescent sons. This study also contributes to the limited body of research on the effects of parenting and father absence on delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents.

Study Design

METHOD

Mothers and adolescents were interviewed in the spring of 1996, and adolescents were reinterviewed in 1997, as part of an ongoing violence and substance abuse prevention study focusing specifically on African-American male adolescents (Ringwalt et al., 1996). No other ethnic or gender groups were included in the study. Although survey data were collected annually from the adolescents from 1993 to 1999, only one round of survey data was collected from the mothers in 1996. Attrition from the study in 1998 and 1999 reduced the sample size substantially and may have introduced unknown biases into the study. For these reasons, the present study is limited to data collected in 1996 and 1997.

Sample

In 1993-94, a nonrandom sample of 260 African-American male 12-to 16-year-olds living in a medium-sized southeastern city were enrolled in the study. In 1996, follow-up survey data were collected from 217 (83%) of the original sample of youth. Concurrently, data were collected from 203 of their mothers or mother surrogates. To be eligible for the study, each mother had to be identified by her son as the female adult he lived with most of the time and who was most like a mother to him. Of the 203 mothers, 175 (86%) provided complete data for all study variables along with their sons. Almost 90% of the mothers were biological or "natural" mothers, while the remaining 10% fell into the following categories: stepmothers (1%), foster mothers (1%), grandmothers (4%), and aunts (4%). About half of the mothers were single parents.

Data Collection

The parent and adolescent surveys were administered in the homes of study participants using audiocassette tape players. Each mother and son had their own tape player and headphones and heard the voice of an adult male who read the questions. They then checked responses on an answer sheet, which had only response choices, not questions. This survey method was modeled after the method used for the Youth Risk Behavior Supplement to the 1992 National Health Interview Survey (ODO, 1994) to accommodate varying literacy skills and to ensure privacy. Study participants were informed that their responses would remain confidential.

Measures

Parent's monitoring of son's behavior. A 9-item index was used to measure mothers' monitoring of their sons' behavior. Sample questions (and possible responses) included: "How much of the time do you know what your son is doing when he is not at home?" (hardly ever/some of the time, most/all of the time); "How many of your sons' friends do you know?" (none/some of them, most/all of them); and "Do you know where your son goes after school?" (no, yes). Because of the skewed distributions of variables with more than two response options, and the dichotomous nature of some items, all responses were coded dichotomously (0, 1) and summed across the 9 items. A higher score indicated a higher level of monitoring by mothers.

Parent's perceived control over son's behavior. A 6-item index was used to measure mothers' perceived control over their sons' behavior, which is a proxy for actual control over their sons' behavior. Parent control has been operationalized in previous studies (e.g., Baumrind, 1991; Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987) as the extent to which adolescents' behavior reflects their parents' preferences or explicit instructions. Mothers in our sample were asked: "How sure are you that you can keep your son from (a) getting into physical fights? (b) carrying a weapon such as a gun? (c) taking drugs? (d) drinking alcohol? (e) smoking cigarettes? (f) having sex until he is older?" Possible responses (and values) were "not at all sure" (0) and "pretty sure or very sure" (1). Responses were summed across the 6 items, with a higher score indicating a higher level of perceived control.

Parent communication with son. An 11-item scale was used to measure mothers' communication with their sons. Mothers were asked: "How often do you talk with your son about (a) his plans for the future? (b) his relationship with his friends? (c) what he is doing in school? (d) having sex? (e) using condoms? (f) getting a sexually transmitted disease? (g) drinking alcohol? (h) using drugs? (i) smoking cigarettes? (j) fighting? (k) carrying a weapon?" Possible responses (and values) were "hardly ever" (1), "sometimes" (2), and "often" (3). A mean response score was computed for each mother, with a higher score indicating more frequent communication with son.

Parent-adolescent relations. A 16-item scale was used to measure the quality of mother-adolescent relations. Mothers were asked whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed, or strongly disagreed with statements like: "My son and I joke around often"; "We almost never seem to agree"; "I enjoy the talks we have"; and "We never have fun together." Responses were coded on a four-point scale and negatively worded items were reverse coded. A mean response score was computed for each mother, with a higher score indicating a more positive relationship with son.

Adolescent affiliation with delinquent peers. Affiliation with delinquent peers was measured using an 8-item scale. Adolescents were asked: "During the past six months, how many of your close friends have (a) purposely damaged or destroyed property that did not belong to them? (b) hit or threatened to hit someone? (c) used alcohol? (d) gotten drunk once in a while? (e) used drugs? (f) carried a knife or a gun? (g) gotten into a physical fight? (h) been hurt in a fight?" Possible responses (and values) were "none of them" (0), "a few of them" (1), some of them" (2), "most of them" (3), and "all of them" (4). A mean response score was computed for each adolescent, with a higher score indicating more affiliation with delinquent peers.

Father absence. To assess father absence, adolescents were asked whether they were living with a father or father figure. Adolescents who reported that they were living with a father or father figure were classified as living in a father-present family, and adolescents who indicated that they were not living with a father or father figure were classified as living in a father-absent family.

Adolescent delinquent behavior. A 12-item index was used to measure delinquent behavior in 1996 and 1997. Adolescents were asked: "When was the last time you (a) hurt someone else in a fight? (b) injured someone with a knife or gun? (c) carried a gun? (d) carried a knife? (e) sold any amount of illegal drugs? (f) damaged or destroyed property that did not belong to you? (g) had five or more alcoholic drinks at one time? (h) used marijuana? (i) used cocaine or crack? (j) were detained or arrested by the police? (k) were required to appear in court for something you had done? (1) were suspended or expelled from school?" The last three items were included because recent studies with African-American male adolescents have shown that such self-report measures have a high degree of criterion validity with respect to objective measures of delinquent or criminal behavior (e.g., Paschall, Qrnstein, & Flewelling, 2001). Possible responses were "within the past month," "between one and six months ago," "between six mont hs," and one year ago," "over one year ago," and "never." Each response was coded dichotomously to indicate whether the behavior had occurred within the past year (0 = no, 1 = yes). Responses were then summed across the 12 items, with a higher score indicating more delinquent behavior in the past year.

Demographics. Demographic variables included adolescents' age and socioeconomic status (SES). To measure age, adolescents were asked "How old are you?" To assess SES, adolescents were asked whether they were receiving free or reduced-price lunch at school (0 = no, 1 = yes). Previous research suggests that students' eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunch is a reasonably good indicator of economic hardship among African-American families in urban communities (e.g., Cotten et al., 1994).

Data Analysis

Our analysis strategy is based in part on prior studies with African-American families (e.g., Griffin et al., 1999), which suggest that different parenting practices have independent effects on adolescents' delinquent behavior. Descriptive statistics were first examined to determine whether there was adequate variability for key study variables and adequate internal consistency for multi-item scales. Bivariate analyses were conducted to assess preliminary support for study hypotheses; a Pearson product-moment correlation matrix was generated for this purpose. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were then conducted to further evaluate the hypothesized relationships. Adolescents' age, SES, and delinquent behavior in 1996 were first entered into the regression model, followed by the four parenting variables. Father absence also was included in initial analyses. Affiliation with delinquent peers was then entered into the model to determine whether any observed effects of parenting would be attenuated, whic h would provide evidence for a mediating effect if peer affiliation was also predictive of delinquent behavior (Baron & Kenny, 1986). Stratified analyses were conducted for youth according to father presence or absence to test the hypotheses that (1) the effects of mothers' parenting on delinquent behavior are stronger in families without fathers, and (2) the effect of adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers on their delinquent behavior is stronger in father-absent families.

RESULTS

Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics are provided in Table 1. The mean age of the adolescents in 1996 was 15.6 years. Fifty-four percent of the adolescents were receiving free or reduced-price school lunch. More than half (53%) of the adolescents reported that they were not living with a father or father surrogate. Descriptive statistics indicated that key study variables (e.g., adolescents' delinquent behavior, mothers' monitoring of sons' behavior) had adequate variability, and all multi-item scale measures demonstrated adequate internal consistency (Oronbach's alpha [greater than or equal to] .85).

Bivariate Analyses

Correlations among study variables are presented in Table 2. The 1997 measure for adolescents' delinquent behavior was associated with mothers' monitoring of their sons' behavior (r = - .25, p < .01) and mothers' perceived control over their sons' behavior (r = - .35, p < .01) in the expected direction. Neither mothers' communication with their sons nor mother-son relations was significantly associated with the 1997 measure for delinquent behavior at the .05 level, though the relationship with mother-son relations approached statistical significance (r = - .14, p = .07). Father absence was not associated with the adolescents' delinquent behavior. Adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers was associated with the 1997 measure for delinquent behavior (r = .48, p <.01) and with several of the parenting measures in the expected directions. Receiving free or reduced-price school lunch was modestly associated with the 1997 measure for delinquent behavior (r .16, p <.05).

Multivariate Analyses

Results of multiple regression analyses for the entire sample are provided in Table 3 (standardized beta coefficients). After adjusting for age, SES, father absence, and the 1996 measure for delinquent behavior, mothers' perceived control over sons' behavior was the only parenting variable predictive of adolescents' delinquent behavior (beta = - .24, p <.01). Together the parenting variables explained an additional five percent of the variance in adolescents' delinquent behavior. Adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers also was a significant predictor of delinquent behavior, explaining an additional two percent of the variance in delinquent behavior. The addition of this variable to the regression model did not, however, attenuate the effect of mothers' perceived control over sons' behavior.

Results of regression analyses conducted separately for mothers and sons in father-absent and father-present families are presented in Table 4 (unstandardized beta coefficients). The effect of mothers' perceived control over their sons' behavior appeared to be stronger in father-absent families (beta = - .40, p < .01) than in father-present families (beta - .28, ns), both before and after including affiliation with delinquent peers in the regression models. However, additional analyses with an interaction term indicated that these differences were not statistically significant. None of the other maternal parenting variables were predictive of delinquent behavior in either father-absent or father-present families. Affiliation with delinquent peers was predictive of delinquent behavior in father-absent families (beta = .55, p = .05), but not father-present families (beta = .53, ns); however, this difference was not statistically significant. Noteworthy was the differential association between our SES measure an d delinquent behavior in father-absent versus father-present families. Receiving free or reduced-price school lunch was more strongly associated with delinquent behavior in father-absent families (beta = 1.09, p < .05) < .05) than in father-present families (beta = .25, ns); this difference was statistically significant.

DISCUSSION

This study provided partial support for our hypothesis that African-American mothers' monitoring and perceived control of their adolescent sons would be more predictive of their sons' subsequent delinquent behavior than mother-adolescent communication and relations, after adjusting for prior levels of delinquent behavior. We found that mothers' perceived control (but not monitoring) was predictive of adolescents' delinquent behavior, using a measure of delinquent behavior subsequent to our assessment of mothers' perceived control, while controlling for the presence of a father (or father surrogate), SES, and adolescents' age and prior delinquent behavior. Neither mother-son communication nor mother-son relations was predictive of adolescents' delinquent behavior. Our second hypothesis that relationships between mothers' parenting variables and sons' behavior would be stronger in father-absent than father-present families was not supported. However, the apparent differential association between mothers' percei ved control and sons' delinquent behavior probably would have been statistically significant had our sample been larger.

These findings are consistent with the studies of parenting and delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents by Cernkovich and Giordano (1987) and by Griffin et al. (1999), but are not consistent with other studies with more general adolescent samples which suggest that an "authoritative" style of parenting deters delinquent behavior by adolescent children (e.g., Baumrind, 1991; Jackson, Henriksen, & Foshee, 1998). Measures of authoritative parenting in these studies included parent supervision and control along with parent-adolescent relations and emotional support. Also contrasting with studies on authoritative parenting is a recent national study of adolescent substance use, which found no association between measures of parent-adolescent communication or relations and adolescents' delinquent behavior (Ennett et al., 2001). Thus, additional research is needed to better understand the effects of different aspects of parenting on delinquent behavior among adolescents in general, and among Afri can-American male adolescents in particular. Parent control and supervision may be the most important deterrents of delinquent behavior, while parent-son communication and relations may contribute to adolescents' cognitive development and psychological well-being (Jackson, Henriksen, & Foshee, 1998; McLoyd et al., 1994).

Contrary to our third hypothesis, and to prominent models of adolescent delinquency (Brook & Brook, 1996; Jessor & Jessor, 1977; Kandel, 1996), adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers did not mediate the relationships between mothers' perceived control and delinquent behavior. One possible explanation for this finding is that our measure for peer affiliation may not have been a complete assessment of the adolescents' propensity to select and associate with delinquent peers. Different aspects of this domain, such as rebelliousness and attitudes toward delinquent behavior, may mediate the effects of mothers' control on delinquent behavior. The fact that parenting effects on delinquent behavior were not attenuated by adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers, and the negligible contribution that peer affiliation made to the explanatory models, suggests that peer group affiliation may not be as important as parental influence in determining delinquent behavior among African-American male adolescents. The studies by Cernkovich and Giordano (1987) and Giordano, Cernkovich, and Pugh (1986) also lend support to this notion. It is also possible that parenting variables mediate or moderate the effects of affiliation with delinquent peers on adolescents' delinquent behavior. Additional research is needed to better understand the nature of these relationships.

Father absence was not in and of itself associated with sons' delinquent behavior, a finding that is consistent with some studies on the effects of family structure (Brounstein et al., 1989; Cernkovich & Giordano, 1987; Ensminger, Kellam, & Rubin, 1983), but not others (Dornbusch et al., 1985; Flewelling & Bauman, 1990; Paschall, Ennett, & Flewelling, 1996). Father absence also did not moderate the relationship between adolescents' affiliation with delinquent peers and their delinquent behavior. However, the effect of socioeconomic disadvantage on delinquent behavior was stronger in father-absent families than in father-present families, suggesting that African-American male adolescents who live in two-parent families are less susceptible to the potentially deleterious effects of poverty on their behavior (Taylor, 1991). Additional analyses with a small number of fathers or father surrogates (n = 73) who participated in our study revealed that fathers' monitoring of sons' behavior was inversely associated wit h sons' subsequent delinquent behavior, controlling for delinquent behavior in 1996 and other demographic and parenting variables. Because all of the fathers were in two-parent families, these findings suggest that African-American male adolescents in two-parent families benefit from both maternal control and paternal supervision. Additional research with larger samples of African-American fathers (or father surrogates) is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

Our findings should be considered in light of some of the limitations of our sample, which was not representative of African-American families. In addition, our sample was relatively small, thus increasing the likelihood of Type II errors. Our study did not include measures for some aspects of parenting practices, such as disciplinary style, that may have an important effect on African-American male adolescents' delinquent behavior (McLoyd et al., 1994). Our study did not include analogous measures of parenting in the adolescent surveys, which may be just as valid as the measures we included in the parent survey, although adolescents may not be aware of the extent to which parents are monitoring their behavior. Measurement error may have occurred in the adolescents' reporting of their affiliation with delinquent peers, and the youth also may have underreported their own delinquent behavior, which has been a concern in other studies of delinquency in this population (Farrington et al., 1997; Paschall, Ornstein , & Flewelling, 2001).

Also noteworthy are this study's major strengths. First, we used data collected independently, but contemporaneously, from African-American male adolescents and their mothers (or surrogates). Second, our data were longitudinal, allowing us to draw conclusions about the predictive value of our measures for parenting, father absence, and peer group affiliation. The fact that prior delinquent behavior (i.e., as measured in 1996) was also included as a control variable in the models is especially significant, as this serves to strengthen the causal attributions that can be made to predictors with respect to how they influence changes in delinquent behavior. Even the modest increases in explained variance in the 1997 delinquency measure by the parenting variables are impressive, given the strong influence that was exerted by the 1996 delinquency measure. However, this feature also means that variables that were found to have no significant predictive power should not be dismissed as possible causal factors, as the ir influence could be mediated through established behavioral patterns that were reflected in the 1996 delinquency measure. Therefore, although this study advances previous research on delinquent behavior among young African-American males, and provides a basis for future prospective studies with larger and more representative samples, it also points to the importance of designing studies that follow youth from an early age, before patterns of delinquent behavior become established.

While this study has some implications for the design of family-oriented programs pertinent to the prevention of delinquent behavior among African-American males, these should be considered with caution, given the modest explanatory power of the parenting variables and the nonrepresentative sample. It is clearly important to emphasize the importance to parents of both supervision and control of their sons' behavior. Open communication and close parent-adolescent relations may also be inherently valuable, but are less likely to mitigate their adolescent sons' delinquent behavior, once these behaviors are established. If our findings are replicated, African-American families without fathers may take some comfort in our potentially important finding that their sons' choice of friends may have little effect on their sons' behaviors. However, the results of this study serve as a reminder to prevention specialists of the importance of targeting maternal behaviors pertinent to the exercise of control, especially in father-absent families.
Table 1

Descriptive Statistics for Study Variables

 M (SD)
Variable (a) or % Alpha

Adolescents' delinquent behavior, 3.0 (2.9)
 1997
Adolescents' delinquent behavior, 2.4 (2.5)
 1996
Mothers' monitoring of sons' 7.6 (1.9)
 behavior
Mothers' perceived control over 1.4 (1.8)
 son's behavior
Mother-adolescent communication 2.5 (0.4) .85
Mother-adolescent relations 3.2 (0.4) .89
Adolescents' affiliation with 1.2 (0.9) .90
 delinquent peers
Free or reduced-price school lunch 54%
Father absent 53%
Adolescents' age 15.6 (1.1)

(a)All variables were measured in 1996 except the 1997 measure for
adolescents' delinquent behavior.

Table 2

Correlations Among Study Variables

Variable (a) 1 2 3

 1. Delinquent behavior, 1997

 2. Delinquent behavior, 1996 .61 **

 3. Mothers' monitoring of sons' -.25 ** -.34 **
 behavior

 4. Mothers' perceived control over -.35 ** -.25 ** .25 **
 sons' behavior

 5. Mother-son communication .06 .04 .02

 6. Mother-son relations -.14 -.29 ** .39 **

 7. Affiliation with delinquent .48 ** .55 ** -.20 **
 peers

 8. Free or reduced-price school .16 * .08 -.15 *
 lunch

 9. Father absent -.00 -.06 -.02

10. Age .09 -.03 -.19 **

Variable (a) 4 5 6 7

 1. Delinquent behavior, 1997

 2. Delinquent behavior, 1996

 3. Mothers' monitoring of sons'
 behavior

 4. Mothers' perceived control over
 sons' behavior

 5. Mother-son communication .05

 6. Mother-son relations .21 ** .12

 7. Affiliation with delinquent -.19 ** .09 -.24 **
 peers

 8. Free or reduced-price school .10 .10 -.11 .09
 lunch

 9. Father absent .12 .12 -.04 .03

10. Age -.13 .03 -.02 .02

Variable (a) 8 9

 1. Delinquent behavior, 1997

 2. Delinquent behavior, 1996

 3. Mothers' monitoring of sons'
 behavior

 4. Mothers' perceived control over
 sons' behavior

 5. Mother-son communication

 6. Mother-son relations

 7. Affiliation with delinquent
 peers

 8. Free or reduced-price school
 lunch

 9. Father absent .16 *

10. Age .00 -.04

(a)All variables were measured in 1996 except the 1997 measure for
adolescentes' delinquent behavior.

* p <.05, ** p < .01

Table 3

Effects of Parenting and Affiliation with Delinquent Peers on
Adolescents' Delinquent Behavior

 Standardized beta
 coefficients

Variable (a) Model 1 Model 2 Model 3

Age .11 .08 .08

Father absent (0 = no, 1 = yes) .02 .04 .04

Free or reduced-price school lunch .10 .14 * .13 *
 (0 = no. 1 = yes)

Adolescents' delinquent behavior .61 ** .57 ** .48 **

Mothers' monitoring of sons' .00 .00
 behavior

Mothers' perceived control over -.24 ** -.22 **
 sons' behavior

Mother-son communication .02 .00

Mother-son relations .09 .10

Affiliation with delinquent peers .18 **

[R.sup.2] .40 .45 .47

(a)All predictor variables were measured in 1996. The 1997 measure for
adolescents' delinquent behavior is the dependent variable.

* p < .05, ** p < .01

Table 4

Effects of Parenting and Affiliation with Delinquent Peers on Delinquent
Behavior, by Father Absence

 Unstandardized beta coefficients
 (b)

 Father-absent
 families (n =92)

Variable (a) Model 1 Model 2 Model 3

Age .50 * .50 * .44

Free or reduced-price school lunch 1.09 * 1.19 ** 1.09 *
 (0 = no, 1 = yes)

Adolescents' delinquent behavior .76 ** .69 ** .57 **

Mothers' monitoring of sons' -.00 -.00
 behavior

Mothers' perceived control over -.39 ** -.40 **
 sons' behavior

Mother-son communication -.31 -.39

Mother-son relations .58 .79

Affiliation with delinquent peers .55 *

[R.sup.2] .45 .52 .54

 Unstandardized beta
 coefficients (b)

 Father-present
 families (n =83)

Variable (a) Model 1 Model 2 Model 3

Age .22 .14 .17

Free or reduced-price school lunch .06 .24 .25
 (0 = no, 1 = yes)

Adolescents' delinquent behavior .66 ** .64 ** .55 **

Mothers' monitoring of sons' .08 .04
 behavior

Mothers' perceived control over -.32 .28
 sons' behavior

Mother-son communication .71 .60

Mother-son relations .38 .41

Affiliation with delinquent peers .53

[R.sup.2] .37 .41 .43

(a)All predictor variables were measured in 1996. The 1997 measure for
adolescents' delinquent behavior is the dependent variable.

(b)Unstandardized beta coefficients were used to compare relationships
between predictor variables and delinquent behavior in father-present
versus father-absent families. Additional analyses with interaction
terms indicated that only the relationship between free/reduced-price
lunch and delinquent behavior was significantly different in these two
subgroups.

* p < .02

** p < .01


REFERENCES

Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182.

Bauman, K. E., & Ennett, S. T. (1996). On the importance of peer influence for adolescent drug use: Commonly neglected considerations. Addiction, 91, 185-198.

Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 56-95.

Brook, J. S., & Brook, D. W. (1996). Risk and protective factors for drug use: Etiological considerations. In C. B. McCoy et al. (Eds.), Intervening with drug-involved youth (pp. 23-44). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Brounstein, P. J., Hatry, H. P., Altschuler, D. M., & Blair, L. H. (1989). Patterns of substance use and delinquency among inner city adolescents. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1994). Health risk behaviors among adolescents who do and do not attend school--United States, 1992. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 43, 129-131.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance--United States, 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 49(SS05), 1-96.

Cernkovich, S. A., & Giordano, P. C. (1987). Family relationships and delinquency. Criminology, 25, 295-321.

Clark, R. D., & Shields, G. (1997). Family communication and delinquency. Adolescence, 32, 81-92.

Cotten, N. U., Resnick, J., Browne, D. C., Martin, S. L., McCarraher, D. R., & Woods, J. (1994). Aggression and fighting behavior among African-American adolescents: Individual and family factors. American Journal of Public Health, 84, 618-622.

Dornbusch, S. M., Carlsmith, J. M., Bushwall, S. J., Ritter, P. L., Leiderman, H., Hastorf, A. H., & Gross, R. T. (1985). Single parents, extended households, and the control of adolescents. Child Development, 56, 326-341.

Ennett, S. T., Bauman, K. E., Foshee, V. A., Pemberton, M., & Hicks, K. A. (2001). Parent-child communication about adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: What do parents say and does it affect youth behavior? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 48-62.

Ensminger, M. E., Kellam, S. G., & Rubin, B. R. (1983). School and family origins of delinquency: Comparison by sex. In K. T. Van Dusen & S. A. Mednick (Eds.), Prospective studies of crime and delinquency. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff.

Farrington, D. P., Loeber, R., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., Van Kammen, W. B., & Schmidt, L. (1997). Self-reported delinquency and a combined delinquency seriousness scale based on boys, mothers, and teachers: Concurrent and predictive validity for African-Americans and Caucasians. Criminology, 34, 493-517.

Flewelling, R. L., & Bauman, K E. (1990). Family structure as a predictor of initial substance use and sexual intercourse in early adolescence. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 171-181.

Gibbs, J. T., Brunswick, A. F., Connor, M. E., Dembo, R., Larson, T. E., Reed, R. J., & Solomon, B. (1988). Young, black, and male in America: An endangered species. Dover, MA: Auburn House.

Giordano, P. C., Cernkovich, S. A., & Pugh, M. D. (1986). Friendships and delinquency. American Journal of Sociology, 91, 1170-1202.

Griffin, K. W., Botvin, G. J., Scheier, L. W, Diaz, T., & Miller, N. (1999). Parenting practices as predictors of substance use, delinquency and aggression among urban minority youth: Moderating effects of family structure and gender. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 14, 174-184.

Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Jackson, C., Henriksen, L., & Foshee, V. A. (1998). The Authoritative Parenting Index: Predicting health risk behaviors among children and adolescents. Health Education and Behavior, 25, 319-337.

Jessor, R., & Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem behavior and psychosocial development: A longitudinal study of youth. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Kandel, D. B. (1996). The parental and peer contexts of adolescent deviance: An algebra of interpersonal influences. Journal of Drug Issues, 26, 289-315.

Mason, C. A., Cauce, A. M., Gonzales, N., & Hiraga, Y. (1994). Adolescent problem behavior: The effect of peers and the moderating role of father absence and the mother-child relationship. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22, 723-743.

McLoyd, V., Jayarante, T., Ceballo, R., & Borquez, J. (1994). Unemployment and work interruption among African-American single mothers: Effects on parenting and adolescent socioemotional functioning. Child Development, 65, 562-589.

Mincy, R. B. (1994). Nurturing young black males: Challenges to agencies, programs, and social policy. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

Monahan, T. P. (1957). Family status and the delinquent child: A reappraisal and some new findings. Social Forces, 35, 250-258.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2000). Trends in academic progress: Three decades of student performance (Report No. NCES 2000469). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

National Center for Health Statistics. (2000). Vital statistics, United States, 1998 (Table III, p. 3,106). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics

Paschall, M. J., Ennett, S. T., & Flewelling, R. L. (1996). Relationships among family characteristics and violent behavior by black and white male adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 25, 177-197.

Paschall, M. J., & Hubbard, M. L. (1998). Effects of neighborhood and family stressors on African-American male adolescents' self-worth and propensity for violent behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 825-831.

Paschall, M. J., Ornstein, M., & Flewelling, R. L. (2001). African-American male adolescents' involvement in the criminal justice system: The criterion validity of self-report measures in a prospective study. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38, 174-187.

Patterson, G. R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1984). The correlation of family management practices and delinquency. Child Development, 55, 1299-1307.

Ringwalt, C. L., Graham, L., Paschall, M. J., Browne, D., & Flewelling, R. L. (1996). Supporting adolescents with guidance and employment (SAGE). American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 12 (Supplement), 31-38.

Robins, L. N., West, P. A., & Heijanic, B. L. (1975). Arrests and delinquency in two generations: A study of black urban families and their children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 125-140.

Sampson, R. J. (1987). Urban black violence: The effect of male joblessness and family disruption. American Journal of Sociology, 93, 348-382.

Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M. (1999). Juvenile offenders and victims: 1999 update (Report No. NCJ 178257). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Taylor, R. L. (1991). Poverty and adolescent black males: The subculture of disengagement. In P. B. Edelman & J. Ladner (Eds.), Adolescence and poverty (pp. 139-162). Washington, DC: Center for National Policy Press.

Wells, L. B., & Rankin, J. H. (1991). Families and delinquency: A meta-analysis of the impact of broken homes. Social Problems, 38, 71-93.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA Grant No. R0l AA10428).

Mallie J. Paschall, Christopher L. Ringwalt and Robert L. Flewelling, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Mallie J. Paschall is now at the Prevention Research Center, Berkeley, California.

Reprint requests to Mallie J. Paschall, Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 2150 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 900, Berkeley, California 94704. E-mail: paschall@pire.org
COPYRIGHT 2003 Libra Publishers, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Paschall, Mallie J.; Ringwalt, Christopher L.; Flewelling, Robert L.
Publication:Adolescence
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2003
Words:6659
Previous Article:Risk profiles of adolescent girls who were victims of dating violence.
Next Article:Academic performance, popularity, and depression predict adolescent substance use.
Topics:


Related Articles
Family correlates of social skill deficits in incarcerated and nonincarcerated adolescents.
A measurement of delinquency differences between a delinquent and nondelinquent sample: what are the implications?
The contribution of self-concept in the etiology of adolescent delinquent.
Shattering myths about youth violence.
Psychosocial correlates of substance use behaviors among African American youth.
Unraveling the link between trauma and male delinquency: the cumulative versus differential risk perspectives.
Cigarette smoking among African American youth from single mother homes: examining the roles of maternal smoking and positive parenting within an...
Increasing prosocial behavior and academic achievement among adolescent African American males.
The relationship between paternal involvement and child outcomes in male African American youth.
The role of sex, self-perception, and school bonding in predicting academic achievement among middle class African American early adolescents.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters