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DOES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAMILY STRUCTURE AND DELINQUENCY VARY ACCORDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES? AN INVESTIGATION OF INTERACTION EFFECTS.
Christopher A. Kierkus
School of Criminal Justice
State University of New York at Albany
Albany, New York
Department of Sociology
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
Empirical research has shown that familial disruption is associated with delinquent behavior. Recent investigations suggest that reduced levels of attachment in non-traditional families may be responsible for this effect. However, it is not known if the impact of familial disruption varies according to familial SES or the gender of the children. Some authors have argued that the criminogenic influence is greater for boys while others have maintained that girls are more adversely influenced. Similar contradictory evidence has been reported with respect to SES. Finally, a substantial number of studies have shown that the influence of familial disruption is largely invariant to gender and SES. The goal of this study was to determine if familial disruption interacts with these two variables. Multivariate logistic regression was used in the investigation. A representative sample of Ontario school children was analyzed (n=1,891). The findings suggest that family structure interacts with SES but only with respect to one form of delinquent behavior (school truancy). Only children who come from wealthy non-traditional families are more likely to be truant. Overall, the relationship between family structure and delinquency is remarkably similar across circumstances.
INVESTIGATING THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF STRAIN AND SELF-CONTROL
University of Manitoba
Teresa C. LaGrange
Cleveland State University
Robert A. Silverman
Self-control and strain perspectives are widely viewed as independent and contrasting explanations for crime and delinquency. This paper re-evaluates the competing paradigms approach by considering the two theories as potentially complementary in explaining participation in delinquency based on Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) assumption that self-control acts as a barrier to criminal behaviour. If such a claim is valid, one would hypothesize that individuals with high self-control would be able to mediate the effects of strain and refrain from engaging in delinquent activities. In contrast, adolescents with low self-control may not be equipped with the necessary constraints to abstain from delinquency and would therefore exhibit the greatest criminal propensities. A significant interaction term would support such claims. Data from a sample of over 2,000 adolescents attending junior and senior high schools in a Western Canadian city were analyzed to determine the independent and contextual effects of self-control and strain on involvement in delinquent behaviour. Results suggest that both self-control and strain are important contributors to delinquency, but in an additive, and not interactive way. Such results do not seem to provide support for claims made by control theorists who would no doubt argue that the effects of strain should be conditioned by low self-control.