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Youth with Co-occurring Delinquency and Depressive Symptoms: Do They Have Better or Worse Delinquent Outcomes?

Abstract

Delinquent youth often experience depression, but depression’s impact on their future deviance is unclear. Using survey and social network data on a panel of 9th graders (N = 8701; Mage at baseline = 15.6; 48% male; 85% white; 18% eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch) followed throughout high school, this study tested whether depressive symptoms predicted later deviance or deviant peer affiliations among already delinquent youth. A latent class analysis revealed that 4% of respondents showed above-average levels of delinquency but not depressive symptoms, and 3% were above average on both. Compared to the delinquent-only group, the delinquent-depressed group went on to have less deviant friends, and to engage in less deviance themselves. However, peer deviance was not a reliable explanation for the reductions in respondents’ own future deviance. Depressive symptoms thus may play a protective role against continued delinquency and substance use among youth who are already delinquent, but it is not because they reduce deviant peer affiliations.

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Notes

  1. As mentioned earlier, the data were collected in the course of a place-randomized substance abuse prevention trial. School districts assigned to the treatment condition received additional family- and school-based substance use programming. To determine whether the results were sensitive to this design feature, supplementary analyses were conducted that tested whether the results were affected by controlling for treatment condition in the main analysis. They were not.

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Funding

Grants from the W. T. Grant Foundation (8316), National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA018225), and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24-HD041025) supported this research. The analyses used data from PROSPER, a project directed by R. L. Spoth, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA013709). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

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Authors

Contributions

SS conceived of the study, drafted the manuscript, co-designed the statistical analyses, and helped with the analyses; AW helped draft the manuscript, co-designed the statistical analyses, and conducted the analyses; MF provided feedback on the analyses and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sonja E. Siennick.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by Florida State University’s Human Subjects Committee (HSC No. 2019.27449).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Appendices

Appendix 1. Bivariate correlations between study variables

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
1. Delinquency 1.00                       
2. Police contact 0.49 1.00                      
3. Substance use 0.42 0.30 1.00                     
4. Peer delinquency 0.23 0.15 0.22 1.00                    
5. Peer police contact 0.14 0.15 0.17 0.56 1.00                   
6. Peer substance use 0.19 0.18 0.44 0.46 0.37 1.00                  
7. Wave −0.04 −0.01 0.10 −0.06 −0.02 0.15 1.00                 
8. Male 0.15 0.08 0.02 0.17 0.11 0.03 0.00 1.00                
9. Black 0.00 0.00 −0.02 0.03 0.02 0.00 −0.01 0.00 1.00               
10. Hispanic 0.00 0.00 −0.03 −0.02 −0.01 −0.04 −0.01 −0.03 −0.04 1.00              
11. Other race 0.06 0.03 0.01 0.03 0.02 0.01 −0.01 0.03 −0.04 −0.06 1.00             
12. Two bio. parents −0.09 −0.07 −0.11 −0.08 −0.05 −0.08 0.01 0.04 −0.05 −0.01 −0.04 1.00            
13. Free lunch 0.05 0.03 0.00 0.05 0.03 −0.01 −0.05 −0.02 0.08 0.22 0.01 −0.22 1.00           
14. Family relations 0.28 0.15 0.23 0.10 0.06 0.09 −0.01 0.04 −0.02 −0.02 0.03 −0.05 0.01 1.00          
15. Church attendance −0.12 −0.07 −0.18 −0.12 −0.07 −0.15 −0.06 −0.03 0.02 0.02 −0.02 0.20 −0.08 −0.18 1.00         
16. Sens. seeking 0.40 0.23 0.34 0.18 0.12 0.17 −0.03 0.18 −0.01 −0.03 0.04 −0.08 0.01 0.26 −0.14 1.00        
17. School grades −0.21 −0.17 −0.22 −0.18 −0.14 −0.16 0.09 −0.15 −0.04 −0.08 −0.03 0.21 −0.17 −0.16 0.19 −0.21 1.00       
18. School attachment −0.33 −0.21 −0.29 −0.19 −0.13 −0.16 0.03 −0.17 0.00 0.01 −0.03 0.12 −0.04 −0.40 0.21 −0.34 0.45 1.00      
19. Police contact 0.22 0.21 0.17 0.10 0.08 0.10 −0.02 0.08 0.01 0.01 0.06 −0.06 0.03 0.09 −0.06 0.12 −0.12 −0.14 1.00     
20. Substance use 0.31 0.24 0.50 0.17 0.13 0.32 −0.04 −0.02 −0.04 −0.01 0.01 −0.10 0.01 0.16 −0.15 0.23 −0.19 −0.21 0.31 1.00    
21. Peer delinquency 0.21 0.14 0.19 0.29 0.16 0.22 −0.03 0.19 0.09 0.03 0.04 −0.10 0.08 0.10 −0.15 0.17 −0.21 −0.19 0.13 0.21 1.00   
22. Peer police contact 0.12 0.12 0.15 0.15 0.14 0.17 −0.03 0.11 0.04 0.00 0.02 −0.06 0.05 0.06 −0.08 0.09 −0.17 −0.12 0.14 0.17 0.53 1.00  
23. Peer substance use 0.19 0.16 0.34 0.21 0.15 0.40 −0.04 −0.03 −0.01 −0.04 0.00 −0.10 0.02 0.09 −0.16 0.15 −0.17 −0.15 0.14 0.41 0.51 0.40 1.00
  1. Variables 1–6 measured at 10th–12th grades; variables 19–23 measured at 9th grade
  2. Source: PROSPER Peers

Appendix 2. Goodness of fit statistics for latent class models

Number of classes Log-Likelihood AIC BIC df AvePP
1 −26,764.75 53,535.51 53,556.99 3
2 −19,924.74 39,861.47 39,904.44 6 0.965
3 −19,307.86 38,633.72 38,698.17 9 0.910
4 −18,097.31 36,218.62 36,304.56 12 0.896
5 −17,198.84 34,427.67 34,535.10 15 0.891
6 −17,198.92 34,427.83 34,535.26 15 0.743
7 −16,345.69 32,735.38 32,892.94 22 0.861
  1. Source: PROSPER Peers

Appendix 3. Means/percentages on depressive symptoms, delinquency variety and background variables at 9th grade by latent class membership

  Mean SD Above-average delinquency variety Above-average on both Above-average depressive symptoms Average delinquency variety Low on both Post hoc tests
Group All 1 2 3 4 5
Latent class delinquency-depression groups
 Percent in this class    4.3% 3.2% 10.5% 17.0% 65.0%  
 9th grade depressive symptoms 0.275 0.423 0.228 1.439 1.084 0.190 0.112 a
 9th grade delinquency variety 1.218 2.001 7.066 5.650 0.751 3.090 0.198 a
Background variables
 Male    77.8% 32.9% 18.0% 59.5% 48.5% a
 Black    4.8% 2.2% 2.6% 4.1% 2.6%  
 Hispanic    9.0% 7.6% 7.4% 7.5% 6.7%  
 Other non-white race    7.4% 13.0% 5.9% 6.3% 4.9% a
 Two biological parent family    50.7% 46.9% 52.1% 53.5% 66.5%  
 Free/reduced price lunch    27.3% 23.5% 25.8% 23.6% 17.9%  
 Poor family relations    −0.347 −0.362 −0.475 −0.466 −0.665  
 Church attendance    1.984 2.054 2.183 2.064 2.448  
 Sensation seeking    3.095 2.953 2.403 2.684 2.138 a
 School grades    3.499 3.590 3.871 3.781 4.098  
 School attachment    3.109 3.066 3.460 3.396 3.731  
 Police contact    43.8% 41.8% 4.5% 14.9% 2.4%  
 Substance use    1.760 1.766 0.746 1.082 0.376  
 Peer delinquency    2.114 1.757 1.181 1.688 1.089 a
 Peer police contact    1.307 1.223 1.128 1.198 1.112 a
 Peer substance use    0.962 0.938 0.699 0.848 0.587  
N 8701 377 277 911 1476 5660  
  1. Source: PROSPER Peers
  2. aSignificant difference (p < 0.05) between above-average delinquency variety (group 1) and above-average on both (group 2)

Appendix 4. Coefficients for control variables from Table 2

  Peer delinquency Peer police contact Peer substance use
Predictor b (se) b (se) b (se)
Wave −0.058 (0.010)*** 0.005 (0.003) 0.229 (0.029)***
Wave2 −0.035 (0.017)* −0.009 (0.005)****   
Mean wave −0.271 (0.044)*** −0.081 (0.013)*** −0.148 (0.026)***
Mean wave2 −0.037 (0.100) 0.012 (0.029)   
Male 0.264 (0.022)*** 0.052 (0.006)*** −0.003 (0.013)
Black −0.072 (0.065) 0.018 (0.019) 0.001 (0.040)
Hispanic −0.098 (0.045)* −0.021 (0.013)**** −0.027 (0.027)
Other non-white race 0.036 (0.047) −0.002 (0.014) 0.009 (0.028)
Two biological parent family −0.058 (0.022)** −0.006 (0.006) −0.044 (0.013)***
Free/reduced price lunch 0.048 (0.027)**** 0.008 (0.008) −0.052 (0.015)***
Poor family relations 0.039 (0.023)**** −0.002 (0.007) 0.000 (0.014)
Church attendance −0.042 (0.008)*** −0.009 (0.002)*** −0.022 (0.005)***
Sensation seeking 0.083 (0.010)*** 0.018 (0.003)*** 0.056 (0.006)***
School grades −0.094 (0.014)*** −0.029 (0.004)*** −0.057 (0.008)***
School attachment −0.093 (0.017)*** −0.019 (0.005)*** −0.046 (0.010)***
Outcome measure at 9th grade 0.221 (0.010)*** 0.123 (0.011)*** 0.468 (0.011)***
Intercept 1.742 (0.121)*** 1.236 (0.038)*** 1.108 (0.061)***
  1. Source: PROSPER Peers
  2. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; ****p < 0.10

Appendix 5. Coefficients for control variables from Table 3

  Delinquency Police contact Substance use
  Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Predictor b (se) b (se) b (se) b (se) b (se) b (se)
Wave −0.029 (0.012)* −0.023 (0.012)**** 0.177 (0.041)*** 0.173 (0.041)*** 0.196 (0.007)*** 0.141 (0.007)***
Mean wave −0.208 (0.074)** −0.168 (0.074)* −0.608 (0.141)*** −0.549 (0.140)*** −0.192 (0.033)*** −0.139 (0.032)***
Male 0.438 (0.044)*** 0.398 (0.044)*** 0.235 (0.080)** 0.190 (0.079)* −0.068 (0.017)*** −0.067 (0.016)***
Black 0.019 (0.124) 0.000 (0.123) −0.220 (0.239) −0.253 (0.238) −0.027 (0.051) −0.035 (0.048)
Hispanic 0.090 (0.084) 0.104 (0.083) 0.137 (0.156) 0.155 (0.154) −0.058 (0.035)**** −0.046 (0.033)
Other non-white race 0.334 (0.088)*** 0.324 (0.087)*** 0.073 (0.157) 0.074 (0.155) −0.019 (0.037) −0.020 (0.035)
Two biological parent family −0.106 (0.039)** −0.103 (0.038)** −0.130 (0.077)**** −0.126 (0.077)**** −0.042 (0.017)* −0.027 (0.016)****
Free/reduced price lunch 0.025 (0.039) 0.020 (0.038) −0.008 (0.092) −0.012 (0.092) −0.077 (0.020)*** −0.064 (0.019)***
Poor family relations 0.678 (0.034)*** 0.671 (0.034)*** 0.440 (0.081)*** 0.441 (0.080)*** 0.165 (0.017)*** 0.166 (0.017)***
Church attendance 0.005 (0.014) 0.011 (0.014) −0.001 (0.031) 0.007 (0.031) −0.039 (0.006)*** −0.030 (0.006)***
Sensation seeking 0.488 (0.014)*** 0.483 (0.014)*** 0.518 (0.035)*** 0.509 (0.035)*** 0.189 (0.008)*** 0.176 (0.007)***
School grades −0.085 (0.019)*** −0.078 (0.019)*** −0.321 (0.044)*** −0.300 (0.044)*** −0.078 (0.010)*** −0.059 (0.009)***
School attachment −0.438 (0.024)*** −0.422 (0.024)*** −0.456 (0.060)*** −0.436 (0.059)*** −0.138 (0.013)*** −0.123 (0.012)***
Outcome measure at 9th grade    1.242 (0.120)*** 1.199 (0.119)*** 0.487 (0.010)*** 0.419 (0.009)***
Intercept 0.072 (0.142) −0.165 (0.143) −0.527 (0.300)**** −1.378 (0.313)*** 1.402 (0.075)*** 1.038 (0.071)***
  1. Binomial, logistic, and linear coefficients shown for delinquency, police contact, and substance use models respectively
  2. Source: PROSPER Peers
  3. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; ****p < 0.10

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Siennick, S.E., Widdowson, A.O. & Feinberg, M.E. Youth with Co-occurring Delinquency and Depressive Symptoms: Do They Have Better or Worse Delinquent Outcomes?. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1260–1276 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01213-1

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