Do Birds of a Feather Cluster Together? The Versatility and Specialization of Adolescent Deviance

Mark Asbridge, University of Toronto

Employing a cluster analysis, this paper explores the general question of the relationship between substance use, delinquency, and criminality, in order to develop a classification of individual patterns of behaviour. A growing body of research speaks to the robustness of the relationship between drugs and crime. Although issues of causality are not fully developed, research attention has centered on the correlation between multiple indicators of deviance in the hopes of identifying and profiling groups of individuals. Once classified, we can speak to the social development of specific patterns of deviance, both theoretically and in terms of public policy. Unfortunately, much of the existing research is drawn from samples pre-selected on their problematic or deviant behaviour, ignoring the drug-crime association in the general population. Additionally, studies have failed to properly operationalize substance use, delinquency, and criminality, including only a limited set of deviant measures based largely on prevalence. To address these gaps in the literature, I examine a general population sample of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 to explore individual patterns of substance use, delinquency, and criminality. Moreover, I employ a broad swath of deviant behaviours that include indicators of prevalence and incidence. Data for this project come from the "Toronto Area Youth Survey", administered to over 3,500 high school students in the city of Toronto.

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Updated 05/20/2006