The Protective Effects of Family Support on the Relationship Between Official Intervention and General Delinquency Across the Life Course

  • Beidi DongEmail author
  • Marvin D. Krohn



Previous research on the labeling perspective has identified mediational processes and the long-term effects of official intervention in the life course. However, it is not yet clear what factors may moderate the relationship between labeling and subsequent offending. The current study integrates Cullen’s (Justice Q 11:527–559, 1994) social support theory to examine how family social support conditions the criminogenic, stigmatizing effects of official intervention on delinquency and whether such protective effects vary by developmental stage.


Using longitudinal data from the Rochester Youth Development Study, we estimated negative binomial regression models to investigate the relationships between police arrest, family social support, and criminal offending during both adolescence and young adulthood.


Police arrest is a significant predictor of self-reported delinquency in both the adolescent and adult models. Expressive family support exhibits main effects in the adolescent models; instrumental family support exhibits main effects at both developmental stages. Additionally, instrumental family support diminishes some of the predicted adverse effects of official intervention in adulthood.


Perception of family support can be critical in reducing general delinquency as well as buffering against the adverse effects of official intervention on subsequent offending. Policies and programs that work with families subsequent to a criminal justice intervention should emphasize the importance of providing a supportive environment for those who are labeled.


Labeling theory Official intervention Social support Life course Moderation 



Support for the Rochester Youth Development Study has been provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (86-JN-CX-0007), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA020195, R01DA005512), the National Science Foundation (SBR-9123299), and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH63386). Work on this project was also aided by grants to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University at Albany from NICHD (P30HD32041) and NSF (SBR-9512290). Official arrest data were provided electronically by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Points of view, conclusions, and methodological strategies in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the funding agencies or data sources.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biostatistics and EpidemiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Criminology & LawUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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