A regional study of risk factors for drug abuse and delinquency: sex and racial differences
Many juveniles are at high risk for delinquency and drug abuse by virtue of the characteristics of their neighborhoods, which are often economically impoverished, socially unstable, physically neglected, and rife with crime, drug use, and drug selling. However, a significant proportion of these youth do not engage in deviant behavior, while others participate to varying degrees. This study examined what factors discriminate between high-risk youth who do and who do not exhibit deviant behavior. Self-reported measures of several attitudes and behaviors known to correlate with drug abuse and delinquency were assessed in relation to reports of property offenses, person offenses, drug use, and drug selling. Additional analyses were conducted to distinguish between sex and racial groups to further qualify the relationships between deviant behaviors and attitudes. The most notable finding was that types of deviance that primarily involve material and monetary gain may be largely influenced by relationships with significant others, while deviance with potentially harmful consequences to both self and others are influenced largely by personal attitudes. Examination of individual variables showed that negative peer influences and positive attitudes toward fighting significantly increased the likelihood of reporting involvement in three of the four deviance measures, and that positive relationship with the father and prosocial values were inversely related to two of the behavioral deviance measures. There were very few differences in significant predictors of deviance for males versus females. Several self-reported attitudes and behaviors distinguished African Americans from Hispanics and Whites, even though Whites were reportedly responsible for a higher incidence of deviant behaviors.