Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 836–843

Parental Control, Adolescent Delinquency, and Young Adult Criminal Behavior

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10826-012-9641-x

Cite this article as:
Harris-McKoy, D. & Cui, M. J Child Fam Stud (2013) 22: 836. doi:10.1007/s10826-012-9641-x


Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of increased autonomy. Higher levels of autonomy could increase the opportunities for risky behavior such as delinquency. During these periods of transition, the role of parental control becomes less clear. Previous studies have demonstrated the association between parental control and adolescent delinquency, but few have extended examination of such association into young adulthood. The purpose of the study is to examine the association between parental control and delinquency and parental control in adolescence and young adult criminal behavior. We propose that, even though adolescents seek autonomy during this stage, lack of parental control is positively associated with delinquency and has continued influence in young adulthood. Using a national longitudinal dataset, we analyzed the relationship between parental control and delinquency. Findings from regression analyses indicated that lack of parental control had a positive association with delinquency both concurrently and longitudinally into young adulthood. When analyzing delinquency in young adulthood, females reported a lower level of delinquency and younger age was associated with more delinquent behavior. Unexpectedly, parents’ college education was positively associated with delinquency in young adulthood. The findings suggest that parental control is still influential through the period of adolescence and early parental control is still influential in young adulthood. Ways to practice parental control and implications of results are further discussed.


AdolescenceAnti-social behaviorDelinquencyEmerging adulthoodParental control

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Child SciencesThe Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA