Contributed Symposium

The multi-faceted side of delinquency: A comparison of male adolescents reporting no, minor, and major delinquency over time

[Speaker] Titzmann, Peter F:1
[Co-author] Silbereisen, Rainer K.:2, Mesch, Gustavo:3
1:University of Education Weingarten (Germany), 2:Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany), 3:University of Haifa (Israel)

Adolescents vary in delinquent behavior: Some commit no delinquency, others confine themselves to minor delinquent offenses (e.g., shoplifting small items), and some repeatedly commit major delinquent acts (e.g., use of weapons). This study investigated differences between these three groups using longitudinal (three annual waves) data of 585 male immigrant and native adolescents in Germany and Israel (15.2 years old). Discriminant function analysis revealed two significant discriminant functions. One comprised risk factors (victimization, parental monitoring, delinquent friends) with the no-delinquency group scoring lowest and the major-delinquency group scoring highest. The second discriminant function was defined by high self-efficacy and low depressive symptoms, with the minor-delinquency group scoring higher than the other two groups. Additional analyses disproved the alternative explanation that results reflect variation in ethnic background rather than membership in delinquency groups. Results suggest that minor levels of delinquency can be adaptive for adolescent functioning (e.g., through higher peer status).
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