Neighborhoods and Delinquency: Do Family Processes Condition the Impact of Neighborhoods on Delinquency?

Scott A. Desmond, University of Washington

Guided by social disorganization theory (and thge "systemic model" of neighborhoods), much of the research on neighborhoods and delinquency has focused on the macro- and micro-level processes that "mediate" the influence of eighborhood structure on the delinquency of adolescents. Researchers have, for example, investigated how structural characteristics (e.g., poverty, residential stability, and ethnic heterogeneity) affect delinquency indirectly through "intervening" mechanisms; such as social ties, collective efficacy, social capital, peer associations, and family-level management strategies. Although there has been a great deal of attention focused on the "indirect" effects of neighborhood characteristics, researchers have rarely examined how other factors might "moderate" or "condition" the impact of nighborhoods. In other words, neighborhoods could have more of an impact under some conditions and less of an impact under other conditions. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add HGealthg), I examine how family level processes, including parental attachment and parental supervision, moderate or condition the influence of neighborhood structural characteristics. I hypothesize, for example, that neighborhoods will have less of an effect on delinquency when adolescents are attached to their parents and/or closely supervised. In contrast, neighborhood characteristics will have a stronger effect ond elinquency when adolescents are not attached to their parents and/or parental supervision is low.

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Updated 05/20/2006