Are Special Education Students More Likely to Become Delinquent? Another Look at the Relationship Between Learning Disabilities and Delinquency

Jennifer Lynn-Whaley, The Urban Institute

Research indicates that a large proportion of juvenile delinquents are school dropouts or youth in need of special education services. This paper will use data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education Students (1987 and 1993) to explore the debated relationship between delinquency and classification as learning disabled and/or severely emotionally disturbed. The analysis uses hierarchical multiple regression to test three competing hypotheses pertaining to learning disability and delinquency: 1) the school failure hypothesis; 2) the susceptibility hypothesis; and, 3) the differential treatment hypothesis.

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Updated 05/20/2006