Social Support and Delinquency: The Significance of Race, Class, and Gender

Becky Tatum, Georgia State University

ABSTRACT
Although studies show that social support is negatively correlated with delinquency, extant research has not fully examined the impact of structural location and cultural contexts on the availability of support provisions and the effects of different sources of social support on different types of delinquency. Drawing data from Waves 1 and 2 of the in-home interviews of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth), this study examines the association between social support, personality, environmental, demographic, and delinquency variables for African American, Mexican American and White youths. Using a series of bivariate and multivariate analyses, three issues are explored: (1) The nature of adolescents' social support. What are the sources of social support for African American, Mexican American, and White youths? What factors influence the availability of social support? And, how do the sources and determinants of social support compare and differ across race, class, and gender contexts? (2) The effects of social support on delinquency. What effects (protective and buffering) does social support have on the prevalence and incidence of delinquency? Do these effects vary by source and type of delinquency, and within and across race, class and gender contexts? (3) Implications for research and delinquency prevention. How do the study findings inform research and delinquency prevention policies.

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Updated 05/20/2006