Social Control, Serious Delinquency, and Risky Behavior A Gendered Analysis

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In: Crime & Delinquency, Vol.54, No. 3, 2008


Social control theory asserts that strong social bonds inhibit delinquency, whereas weak bonds offer little resistance to offending. In the development of this theoretical perspective, new research suggests that the type and magnitude of social bonds have differing effects on male and female delinquency. This study adds to our understanding of how social control factors of parental attachment, involvement in diverse prosocial activities, belief in traditional norms, and school climate affect both young men's and young women's reports of serious delinquency and risky behavior in a sample of high school youth. Whereas previous research has generally either controlled for the effect of gender statistically or studied all-male samples, this article uses separate models to examine the independent effects of social bonds on male and female delinquency. The findings support the development of gender-specific analyses to understand how social control affects male and female pathways into delinquency.