Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1078–1094 | Cite as

Parent and Peer Pathways to Adolescent Delinquency: Variations by Ethnicity and Neighborhood Context

  • Arielle R. Deutsch
  • Lisa J. Crockett
  • Jennifer M. Wolff
  • Stephen T. Russell
Empirical Research


Effects of ethnicity and neighborhood quality often are confounded in research on adolescent delinquent behavior. This study examined the pathways to delinquency among 2,277 African American and 5,973 European American youth residing in high-risk and low-risk neighborhoods. Using data from a national study of youth, a meditational model was tested in which parenting practices (parental control and maternal support) were hypothesized to influence adolescents’ participation in delinquent behavior through their affiliation with deviant peers. The relationships of family and neighborhood risk to parenting practices and deviant peer affiliation were also examined. Results of multi-group structural equation models provided support for the core meditational model in both ethnic groups, as well as evidence of a direct effect of maternal support on delinquency. When a similar model was tested within each ethnic group to compare youths residing in high-risk and low-risk neighborhoods, few neighborhood differences were found. The results indicate that, for both African American and European American youth, low parental control influences delinquency indirectly through its effect on deviant peer affiliation, whereas maternal support has both direct and indirect effects. However, the contextual factors influencing parenting practices and deviant peer affiliation appear to vary somewhat across ethnic groups. Overall the present study highlights the need to look at the joint influence of neighborhood context and ethnicity on adolescent problem behavior.


Delinquency Ethnicity Neighborhood context Parenting practices Deviant peers 



This research was funded by grant # HD R01 039438 from NICHD to L. Crockett and S. Russell. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( Address correspondence to A. Deutsch, Portions of this paper were presented at the 2010 meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arielle R. Deutsch
    • 1
  • Lisa J. Crockett
    • 1
  • Jennifer M. Wolff
    • 1
  • Stephen T. Russell
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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