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Antisocial Behavior

The majority of adolescents and children act out or engage in behaviors that are damaging or harmful for themselves or others. Psychiatrists classify such acts as conduct disorders if they occur frequently. If these actions lead youngsters to commit illegal crimes, society deems them delinquents.

(Santrock, 2014)

Conduct Disorder

Children with conduct problems show a wide range of rule-violating behaviors, from swearing and temper tantrums to severe vandalism, theft, and assault. Children who show this pattern often are impulsive, overactive, and aggressive and engage in delinquent actions.

(Burke, 2011; Farrington, 2009)

Conduct problems in children are best explained by a confluence of causes, or risk factors, operating over time:

  • Genetic inheritance of a difficult temperament

  • Ineffective parenting

  • Living in a neighborhood where violence is common

  • Ineffective schools

    (Burke, 2011; Thio, 2010)

Despite considerable efforts to help children with conduct problems, there is a lack of consensus regarding what works.

(Mash & Wolfe, 2013).


Juvenile Delinquency

Predictors of delinquency:

  • Conflict with authority,

  • Minor covert acts (property damage and other more serious acts)

  • Minor aggression (fighting and violence)

  • Identity (negative identity)

  • Self-control (low degree)

  • Cognitive distortions (egocentric bias)

  • Age (early initiation)

  • Sex (male)

  • Expectations for education (low expectations, little commitment)

  • School achievement (low achievement in early grades)

  • Peer influence (heavy influence, low resistance)

  • Socioeconomic status (low)

  • Parental role (lack of monitoring, low support, and ineffective discipline)

  • Siblings (having an older sibling who is a delinquent)

  • Neighborhood quality (urban, high crime, high mobility)

    (Santrock, 2014)

Parent, Neighborhood, Community

Parental supervision of adolescents is especially crucial in determining whether a teen will become a delinquent.

(Laird & others, 2008)

Families living in high-risk neighborhoods indicated a correlation between parents' awareness of their young adolescents' activities and the adolescent' later involvement in delinquency.

(Lahey & others, 2008)

Early parental supervision during adolescence and continued parental support are associated with a lower frequency of criminal behavior in emerging adulthood.

(Johnson & others, 2011)

Indication that for both African American and non-Latino White youth, a lack of parental supervision indirectly predicted criminality through its association with deviant peer affiliation.

(Deutsch & others, 2012)

Authoritative parenting enhanced teenagers' view of the legitimacy of parental authority, whereas authoritarian parenting decreased this perception.
Family discord, as well as inconsistent and inappropriate discipline, are linked to delinquency.

((Bor, McGee, & Fagan, 2004; Trinkner & others, 2012)

Some characteristics of lower socioeconomic status culture can promote delinquency. Getting into and avoiding trouble are significant aspects of the lives of certain adolescents in low-income communities. Adolescents from low-income families may believe they may obtain attention and status by engaging in antisocial behavior. Being "tough" and "masculine" are high-status characteristics for low-SES boys, and these characteristics are frequently judged by the adolescent's ability to perform and get away with criminal behavior.

Research indicates that involved parenting and the social network support of mothers are associated with a decreased rate of delinquency in low-income families.

Ghazarian & Roche, 2010

Community characteristics might contribute to delinquency. A neighborhood with a high crime rate provides adolescents with the opportunity to watch several role models who participate in illicit behavior and may be rewarded for their criminal accomplishments.

Loeber, Burke, & Pardini, 2009

Youth whose families suffered recurring poverty were more than twice as likely to be delinquent between the ages of 14 and 21.

Najman & others, 2010

Siblings and Peers

A growing number of studies have demonstrated that siblings can have a significant impact on delinquency. Having delinquent peers increases the risk of becoming delinquent.

(Bank, Burraston, & Snyder, 2004)

High levels of hostile sibling interactions and older sibling delinquency were associated with the delinquency of younger siblings in both brother and sister pairs.

Slomkowski & others, 2001

Researchers discovered a correlation between peer rejection and having deviant friends between 7 to 13 years old and greater criminality at 14 to 15 years old.

Vitaro, Pedersen, & Brendgen, 2007

Intervention on Delinquency in Adolescence

Read More about the intervention programs from Child Development by Santrock 2014

Parental Discipline

Love Withdrawal

"Love withdrawal is a discipline technique in which a parent withholds attention or love from the child, as when the parent refuses to talk to the child or states a dislike for the child. For example, the parent might say, “I’m going to leave you if you do that again” or “I don’t like you when you do that.”"

(Santrock, 2014)

Power Assertion

"Power assertion is a discipline technique in which a parent attempts to gain control over the child or the child’s resources. Examples include spanking, threatening, or removing privileges."
(Santrock, 2014)


"Induction is a discipline technique in which a parent uses reasoning and explains how the child’s actions are likely to affect other people. Examples of induction include, “Don’t hit him. He was only trying to help” and “Why are you yelling at her? She didn’t mean to trip you.”"

(Santrock, 2014)

(Hoffman, 1970, 1988)

In contrast to love withdrawal and power assertion, induction is more likely to induce a moderate degree of arousal in children, allowing them to pay attention to the cognitive rationale parents provide.

In addition, induction focuses the child's attention on the implications of the action for others, rather than on the child's own flaws. In punishing children, therefore, child developmentalists urge induction over power assertion and love withdrawal. A new study examined the role of inductive discipline in adolescents' moral growth.

In this study, adolescents evaluated parental induction and expression of disappointed expectations as more suitable than power assertion and love withdrawal, and they responded with more positive emotion and guilt to parental induction than to the other parenting strategies. In this study, parental induction was also associated with a greater moral identity.

(Patrick & Gibbs, 2012).

The proactive prevention of possible misbehavior by children is an important parenting practice. Being proactive with older children may involve discussing principles that the parents feel essential. The transmission of these principles can assist older children and teenagers in resisting the temptations that will certainly arise in situations such as peer relations and the media, which are often outside the purview of direct parenting.

(Thompson, 2009a; Thompson, Meyer, & McGin- ley, 2013)

A research review concluded that children who behave morally tend to have parents who:

Warm and supportive rather than punitive

Use inductive discipline

Provide opportunities for the children to learn about others’ perspectives and feelings

Involve children in family decision making and in the process of thinking about moral decisions

Model moral behaviors and thinking themselves, and provide opportunities for their children to do so

Provide information about what behaviors are expected and why

Foster an internal rather than an external sense of morality

(Eisenberg & Valiente, 2002, p. 134)

Parenting suggestions derived from an analysis of parent-child relationships imply that children's moral development is likely to improve when there are mutual parent-child obligations involving warmth and responsibility and when parents employ proactive techniques.

(Thompson, Meyer, & McGinley, 2013)

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