Adolescent Stress and Delinquency in Longitudinal Perspective

Carolyn A. Smith, University at Albany
Carolyn Levy, University at Albany

The association between adolescent stress and participation in delinquent activity is under-researched in criminology, despite rather consistent findings that stress is interlinked with a range of adolescent problems. Important questions about the relationship that call for further examination include a) the causal direction of this relationship), b) gender differences in reaction to stress, c) the impact of interpersonal versus other stressors, and d) the nature of mediating processes (such as anxiety and depressive symptoms) that may link stress and delinquency. This paper will address these issues with data from the Rochester Youth Development Study, a longitudinal investigation of the development of delinquent behavior in a high-risk urban sample of 1000 youths, from age 13 to adulthood. The sample is 73% male and 27% female, 68% are African American, 17% Hispanic, and 15% White. The current analysis uses data from Waves 2 through 9, when the subjects were 14-17 years old. Measures include an adolescent stress index, a family stress index, internalizing problems, depressive symptoms, self-reported delinquency, and official delinquency.

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Updated 05/20/2006