Gender and Crime Among Young Adults: Modeling Differences in Level and Developmental Processes of Violent and Non-Violent Offending in Males and Females at Age 18

Ick-Joong Chung, University of Washington
Karl G. Hill, University of Washington
J. David Hawkins, University of Washington
David P. Farrington, University of Cambridge
Richard F. Catalano, University of Washington

Gender is a consistent correlate of offending, indicating that males are more involved than females (Chesney-Lind, 1989; Giordano & Cernkovich, 1997; Tolan & Lober, 1993). This study seeks to account for gender differences in offending by examining the ways in which social developmental processes leading to adult crime differ or are similar for males and females. For example, the social development model (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996) indicate that males and females may experience different opportunity and reward structures, interact with different peer groups, and develop different normative structures. The sample is from the Seattle Social Development Project, a longitudinal study of 808 youths interviewed annually from 19085 (at approximately age 10 years) to 1991 (age 16), and again in 1993 (age 18). The sample, which was selected to over-represent students from schools serving high-crime and low-income neighborhoods, is gender-balanced, ethnically diverse, with high retention rates (94% of the original sample were interviewed at age 18). Using multivariate analysis of variance and multiple group structural equation modeling, this paper examines the social developmental mechanisms during adolescence through which gender may affect offending at age 18. Implications of the findings are discussed with reference to incorporating gender differences into prevention research and programs.

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Updated 05/20/2006