Adolescent Violence and the Great Debate Between Social Control Theory and Social Learning Theory

Scott W. Whiteford, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Drawing on Social Control Theory and Social Learning Theory, this study examines the effects of family and peer bonds on adolescent violence using data from waves one (1976) and six (1983) of the National Youth Survey. Twelve measures (nine of them are multiple item-scales) of Social Control and Socxial Learning Theories are constructed along with a nine-item scale measuring adolescent violence. At the bivariate level, three of the four cross-tabulations supported Social Control Theory, while one supported Social Learning Theory. At the multi-variate level, both theories appear to carry similar amounts of predictive power. Youth age, gender, intact family, parent's attachment to peers, youth involvement with friends, youth exposure to delinquent peers, and youth's attitude toward deviance are all significant predictors of adolescent violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006