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Hanging out with the wrong crowd: How much difference can parents make in an urban environment?

Abstract

This longitudinal study of youths growing up in an urban area tests whether and by how much increased levels of supervision and monitoring by parents might influence levels of affiliation with delinquent and deviant peers—possibly our most sturdily replicated proximal determinant of early-onset illegal drug use and associated conduct problems in adolescence, aside from aggression and rule-breaking in childhood. Standardized interviews were used to assess parenting, affiliation with deviant peers, and other characteristics of the urban-dwelling youths in this epidemiologically defined sample (>70% African American heritage). Longitudinal analyses and generalized estimating equation (GEE) methods were used to estimate prospective relationships across the transition from late childhood into early adolescence. Results from the longitudinal analyses showed that higher levels of monitoring signaled later lower levels of affiliation with deviant peers, even with statistical adjustment for multiple covariates (\=−0.04; 95% confidence interval [CI]=−0.07 to −0.02; P=.001). Closer parental supervision at ages 8–9 years was linked to subsequently lower levels of deviant peer affiliation (\=−0.05; 95% CI=−0.08 to −0.01), and subsequent age-associated increases in levels of parental supervision from year to year were followed by decreases in levels of affiliation with deviant peers (\=−0.12; 95% CI=−0.15 to −0.09). The main evidence from this study indicates that maintenance of parental supervision and monitoring through the transition from childhood to adolescence may yield important reductions in levels of affiliation with deviant peers, even in the context of our urban and sometimes socially disadvantaged community environments.

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Correspondence to James C. Anthony PhD.

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Lloyd, J.J., Anthony, J.C. Hanging out with the wrong crowd: How much difference can parents make in an urban environment?. J Urban Health 80, 383–399 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1093/jurban/jtg043

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Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Deviant peer affiliation
  • Parent monitoring
  • Urban