The Correlates of Self-Reported Delinquency: An Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth

Executive Summary

The present study was designed to examine the correlates of self-reported delinquency among youth between the ages of 12 and 15 using Canadian data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY).

For the purposes of this study, a Self-Reported Delinquency Scale (SRDS) was created, which considered both the frequency and the severity of the delinquent behaviour. Multiple regression was used to determine the significant correlates of the SRDS as well as specific forms of delinquency including violent offending and drug trafficking. Partial regression analyses were also conducted for male and female delinquents.

The prevalence of self-reported delinquency for the 12-month period prior to the survey was approximately 39% - this translates to more than 540,000 youth across Canada who admitted to at least one act of delinquency during the previous year. The majority, however, would be considered minor offenders.

Five core concepts emerged from the analysis which were consistent across different forms of delinquency as well as for male and female youth. The five central concepts correlated with the SRDS are: 1) inconsistent and inadequate parenting; 2) history of victimization; 3) anti-social peer involvement; 4) negative school attachment; and, 5) aggression.

The analysis was based on cross-sectional data from the NLSCY. It would be extremely valuable in the future to use the longitudinal aspect of the data to develop a clearer sense of the temporal relationships between variables.

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