Relationship between childhood peer rejection and aggression and adolescent delinquency severity and type among African American youth
This prospective, longitudinal study examined peer rejection and aggression in childhood as predictors of the severity and type of delinquency during adolescence. Sociometric surveys were completed at third grade for a predominantly low-socioeconomic status, urban sample of African American boys and girls, and youth reports of delinquency were gathered at Grades 6, 8, and 10. Patterns of association between childhood peer rejection and aggression and delinquency severity varied by gender. For boys, the additive effect of childhood peer rejection and aggression was a strong predictor of more serious delinquency, whereas for girls only aggression predicted more serious delinquency. For boys, the combination of peer rejection and aggression was associated with felony assaults, and aggression was associated with a wide diversity of offenses during adolescence, whereas for girls only peer rejection predicted involvement in minor assault. Results are discussed in terms of the early starter pathway of antisocial behavior as it relates to peer rejection and aggression for boys, differing predictive patterns for girls, and implications for intervention with children with emotional and behavioral disorders.