, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 247-266

Untangling Developmental Relations Between Depressed Mood and Delinquency in Male Adolescents

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Relations between depressed mood and delinquency were investigated in a longitudinal sample of 506 urban adolescent males across ages 13.5–17.5, while adjusting for common risk factors. Adolescents provided yearly reports of their delinquent activities and depressed mood, as well as reports of peer delinquency at age 13.5 (i.e., baseline). Primary caregivers and teachers provided reports of risk factors for depressed mood and delinquency such as aggressive behavior problems and low academic achievement. Two-level hierarchical generalized linear models of concurrent relations indicated that depressed mood predicted concurrent variety of delinquent acts, and more variety of delinquent acts predicted concurrent depressed mood, even after controlling common risk factors. Longitudinal analyses indicated that after controlling for common risk factors, depressed mood had a more robust effect on delinquency variety trajectories than delinquency variety had on depressed mood trajectories. Time-averaged depressed mood significantly predicted a more positive rate of change in delinquency variety across time. Baseline delinquency variety predicted baseline depressed mood and time-averaged delinquency variety predicted a more positive rate of change in depressed mood; however, both effects were marginally significant. Implications of the results for theory and intervention are discussed.