The Latent Structure of Offending in Adolescence

Michael Massoglia, University of Minnesota

The possibility of qualitatively distinct types of deviance remains a controversial issue in contemporary criminology, in part because it suggests multiple forms of deviance, each with a potentially different etiology. Using data from wave one of the National Youth Survey, this work revisits the issue by identifying the latent structure of deviance in adolescence using latent class analysis. The results indicate that adolescent delinquency has four latent classes. Furthermore, this research identifies factors that differentially predict particular forms of deviance. The analysis offers insight to parental and respondent factors indicative of more serious delinquency in adolescence. Implications for criminololgical theory and future research are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006