Gender and Delinquency: Using General Strain Theory and the Gendered Theory of Offending to Explore Differences in Male and Female Delinquency

Crystal Stephens, The Ohio State University

Drawing upon Robert Agnew's general strain theory, this study expands upon past research by examining whether the strains, emotional responses, and negative behavioral outcomes experienced by adolescents are gender-specific. Although recent extensions of Agnew's general strain theory suggest that gender can shape the types of strains one experiences and the responses one has to various strains, these studies generally do not offer theoretical explanations of gender differences, and they focus on a rather narrow range of strains and responses to strains. To address limitations, I incorporate the gendered theory of offending offered by Steffensmeier and Allan (1995, 1996) and examine a much broader array of strains, negative emotions, and negative behavioral outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample of school-aged adolescents, this study will expand upon general strain theory by emphasizing gender differences and employing comprehensive measures of strain, negative emotions, and negative behavioral outcomes. Consistent with theoretical expectations, preliminary findings indicate that males and females do indeed experience different strains and react to them with a range of negative emotions and negative behavioral outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006