Self-Control, Peer Relationships and Delinquency

Constance L. Chapple, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Researchers testing Gottfredson and Hirschi's General Theory of Crime (1990) have neglected the issue of peer relationships and their influence on delinquency. Yet, developmental research indicates that children with low self-control are more likely to be rejected by their peers in late childhood (Olson and Hoza, 1993; Olson, 1989). Rejected children then, are likely to have few peer choices in early adolescence and may be more likely to associate with delinquent peers (Conduct Problems Research Group, 19892; Ferguson and Horwood, 1999) and may be sensitive to delinquent peer pressure. Using longitudinal data, I investigate how late childhood self-control predicts peer rejection, peer selection and sensitivity to peer pressure in early adolescence. I then investigate the direct and interactive effects of low self-control, peer rejection, peer pressure and peer selection on delinquency in middle adolescence. Implications for the general theory of crime, criminal opportunity and peer relationships are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006