A Path Analysis of Family Context, Opportunity, and Delinquency: Controlling for Self-Control

Robert J. Fornango, University of Missouri - St. Louis
Brian R. Buchner, University of Missouri - St. Louis

Using multiple waves of the National Youth Survey (NYS), a longitudinal data series, we examine the relationship between self-control and delinquency through changes in parental supervision. Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime predicts the relationship between low-self control and delinquency is conditioned by available opportunities for deviance. Low self-control has been shown to be a consistent predictor of delinquency and analogous behaviors. Additionally, social-learning theories suggest the likelihood of delinquency increases through association with delinquent peers (Akers, 1998). Previous research indicates that mixed models of delinquency, incorporating measures of self-control, may be preferential in explaining variations in delinquent behavior. The primary hypothesis is that reductions in parental supervision increase opportunities for associations with peers that, in turn, can increase delinquency net of the effects of low self-control. The NYS includes proxy measures of parental supervision, as well as self-reported delinquency and analogous behaviors, attitudes toward delinquency, and peer associations. In the context of family dynamics, we explore the impact of changes in the family environment over time on the association with delinquent peers, controlling for levels of self-control. The implications of complementary model specifications are explored.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006