, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 371-386
Date: 01 Feb 2012

An Empirical Investigation of Social Bonds and Juvenile Delinquency in Hong Kong

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Abstract

Background

Although there are studies that tested Hirschi’s social bond elements with Asian samples in the past, however, no study has examined all his social bond elements.

Objective

Therefore, this study aims to test all Hirschi’s social bond elements with a sample of secondary educated male and female Hong Kong adolescents.

Methods

A total of 1,377 adolescents (666 males and 711 females) aged between 12 and 17 years who are randomly selected out of nine selected secondary schools in Hong Kong are surveyed. In addition to descriptive and bivariate analyses, multivariate analyses are performed to examine the differential social bond effects in predicting the propensity to commit theft and violent crime among male and female adolescents, with and without controlling for their age.

Results

Findings indicate that a strong belief in the legal system, a healthy parent–child bonding, and a strong school commitment are significant protective factors to prevent adolescents from engaging theft and violent delinquency. However, though not uncommon, the increased level of involvement in organizational activities is likely to result in the increase of propensity to involve in delinquent conducts.

Conclusions

This study further offers several implications for social service that may benefit adolescents, by which an improvement of the police-youth relationship as a way to provide an accurate understanding of the criminal justice system, a healthy parent–child bonding, and a strong school commitment may reduce the adolescents’ propensity to commit delinquent acts. Limitations and directions for future research are also outlined.