Peer pressure biggest risk factor for delinquent kids: Study
Posted on May 07 2014 | IANS
Washington, May 7 : What drives children to commit crimes may vary but most kids turn delinquent because of peer pressure, a study indicated.
"For most kids, life-skills training and other school-based programmes can be effective in helping them resist peer pressure," said Brittany Cooper, an assistant professor at Washington State University.
For the study, researcher focused on the individuals instead of the broad-brush technique normally applied to a general population to evaluate how factors like family, peers, school or community relate to delinquency.
Breaking down a survey of over 30,000 teenagers, researchers were able to pinpoint five subgroups and the risks for delinquency that were most relevant for each.
Of the five subgroups identified, the largest - 60 percent - could be called the "peer pressure" group, the study noted.
These children were most influenced by peer and individual factors such as anti-social attitudes or socialising with delinquent friends.
The smallest - one percent of the teenagers - would have been completely overlooked by the broad-brush technique yet accounts for the vast majority of delinquent acts, Cooper explained.
"On average, these kids each committed 44 acts of delinquency over the past year," she said.
This one percent may be those kids in whom violent behaviours and difficult temperaments show up very early in life and never resolve and as such delinquency takes a persistent course.
A smaller group - 29 percent - included teenagers who showed widespread risk at the individual, peer, family and school levels.
"This was the only group where family cohesion was an important predictor of delinquency," Cooper added.
"For these children, we might target strategies toward resolving family conflict issues-such as family-based therapy," she noted.
The study appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health.