Prevention Science

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 115–124 | Cite as

Gender Similarities and Differences in the Association Between Risk and Protective Factors and Self-Reported Serious Delinquency

  • Abigail A. FaganEmail author
  • M. Lee Van Horn
  • J. David Hawkins
  • Michael W. Arthur
Original Paper


Boys consistently report higher rates of serious offending during late adolescence than do girls, yet research is mixed regarding the ways in which males and females may differentially experience risk and protection in their families, schools, peer groups, and as individuals. This article examines gender differences in 22 psychosocial risk and protective factors associated with serious delinquency. Based on self-reported information from 7,829 10th-grade students completing the Communities That Care Youth Survey, all psychosocial factors were significantly related to serious delinquency for both sexes. For 12 of the 22 factors, the strength of the association was significantly greater for males, and, for 18 factors, boys reported higher levels of risk exposure and lower levels of protection than did girls. Together, these findings suggest that boys’ greater involvement in serious delinquency is due to the combination of experiencing more risk and less protection than girls and the greater association of these predictors with serious delinquency for boys compared to girls. Implications for prevention programming are discussed.


Gender and crime Prevention science Risk and protective factors Delinquency 



This work was supported by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA10768-01A1), and (R01 DA015183-01A1) with co-funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Child Health and Development, the National Institute on Mental Health, and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Nashville, TN.


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Copyright information

© Society of Prevention Research 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail A. Fagan
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Lee Van Horn
    • 2
  • J. David Hawkins
    • 1
  • Michael W. Arthur
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of Washington, School of Social WorkSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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