Antisocial behavior in young adolescence through emerging adulthood
Edmond, Mary Elizabeth Bond
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While offending specialization is a central assumption of many criminological theories, a surprising amount of disagreement exists concerning its existence, patterns of manifestation, and association with desistance. This dissertation addresses the theoretical arguments of the criminal career paradigm, the dual taxonomy theory, the age graded theory of informal social control, and the general theory of crime to examine antisocial behavior specialization in young adolescence through emerging adulthood. To this end, three central questions are asked. First, within discrete time points, does antisocial specialization manifest? Secondly, how does specialization in antisocial behavior change over time? Finally, how do antisocial behavior patterns influence desistance? Furthermore, how gender is associated with specialization and change over time is considered. Using a longitudinal sample of 656 African American men and women from the Family and Community Health Study, latent transition analyses reveal that specific specialization statuses emerge in six discrete time points between young adolescence and emerging adulthood and that change in specialization is associated with life stage and desistance in emerging adulthood. Gender differences in status membership and change are also apparent. These findings both partially support the assumptions of the criminal career paradigm and the dual taxonomy theory as well as indicate the need for a more explicit specialization theory.