Gender, Self-Regulation and Delinquency: The Role of Delinquent Peers and Social Bonds

Christine V. Van Asten, The Pennsylvania State University

One of the most consistent findings in the criminological literature is the presence of a gender gap in crime and delinquency (Steffensmeier and Allan 1996). One possible explanation for the gender difference in delinquent offending is a gender differences in self-regulation (Baumeister et al. 1994). These differences are not only biological, but develop through differential gender socialization. An individual child's gender involves societal gender role expectations (or type-scripts--Harris 1977). These gender expectations shape that child's interactions with normative institutions, such as the family, church and schools, as well as influencing peer interactions and social opportunities outside the home. Girls are defined to be dmore domestic and familial, and therefore they are socialized to have different levels of parental bonding. Additionally, these gender definitions and differential socialization affect girls' likelihood of having delinquent peers outside the home. Social bonding and engagement with delinquent peers further shape self-regulation, which affects the likelihood of the commission fo delinquent acts. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adoelscent Health (AddHealth) data, I examine the mediational effect of self-regulation on the gender difference in delinquency. I also examine the direct and indirect effects of parental bonding and delinquent peers on delinquency and self-regulation.

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Updated 05/20/2006