Stability of self-control and the role of parenting in explaining delinquency
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In this study, I use Group-Based Trajectory Modeling and Multinomial Logit Regression Modeling to test and extend Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) self-control theory. Specifically, I examine the following: 1) the stability of self-control up to early adulthood, 2) social factors that improve self-control up to early adulthood, and 3) the new extension of self-control theory concerning criminal opportunity. Using data from an African American sample, I examine the developmental trajectories of self-control from age 10 to 22. Arguing that family routines about children are the structural aspect of effective parenting and authoritative parenting its content aspect, I examine the impact of effective parenting and other socialization processes in the school, conventional peer groups, and religion on youth’s self-control trajectories. In addition, using the structural aspects of effective parenting and other socialization processes as criminal opportunity measures, I examine the role of criminal opportunity in the relationship between self-control and delinquency. My research produced a number of important findings. First, the results indicate that there is heterogeneity in terms of the developmental trajectories of self-control. The majority of the sample shows an increase in self-control by the age of 22. The ranking of self-control among the sample reshuffles substantially over time. Second, authoritative parenting during childhood and during adolescence significantly impacts youth’s self-control trajectories. This impact holds for both boys and girls. Finally, authoritative parenting during childhood and during adolescence significantly impacts youth’s delinquency trajectories. This impact holds for both boys and girls. In addition, family routines about the children significantly interact with self-control during childhood in predicting youth’s delinquency trajectories. The theoretical and practical implications of these important findings are discussed.