Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 223-235

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Trajectories of Delinquency and Parenting Styles

  • Machteld HoeveAffiliated withNetherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NWO-NSCR)Department of Educational Sciences, University of Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Arjan BloklandAffiliated withNetherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NWO-NSCR)
  • , Judith Semon DubasAffiliated withDepartment of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University
  • , Rolf LoeberAffiliated withLife History Studies, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • , Jan R. M. GerrisAffiliated withDepartment of Pedagogy: Family and Behavior, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • , Peter H. van der LaanAffiliated withNetherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NWO-NSCR)


We investigated trajectories of adolescent delinquent development using data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study and examined the extent to which these different trajectories are differentially predicted by childhood parenting styles. Based on self-reported and official delinquency seriousness, covering ages 10–19, we identified five distinct delinquency trajectories differing in both level and change in seriousness over time: a nondelinquent, minor persisting, moderate desisting, serious persisting, and serious desisting trajectory. More serious delinquents tended to more frequently engage in delinquency, and to report a higher proportion of theft. Proportionally, serious persistent delinquents were the most violent of all trajectory groups. Using cluster analysis we identified three parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian (moderately supportive), and neglectful (punishing). Controlling for demographic characteristics and childhood delinquency, neglectful parenting was more frequent in moderate desisters, serious persisters, and serious desisters, suggesting that parenting styles differentiate non- or minor delinquents from more serious delinquents.


Delinquency trajectories Parenting styles Development Longitudinal