Exploring the Role of Internalizing Problems Between Strain Theory and Juvenile Delinquency
AuthorStoll, Katherine Anne
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractResearch in the area of juvenile delinquency indicates that a high percentage of juvenile offenders have social-emotional problems. According to Agnew's General Strain Theory, negative emotional responses result from juvenile offenders who experience certain strains that he or she dislikes and these emotional responses may create pressure for the juvenile offender to respond through criminal acts. Although some study results suggest that negative emotional responses may mediate the effects of strain on delinquency, other studies have found them to be unrelated. The purpose of the current study was to examine if a juvenile offender's negative, internalizing problems such as depression and anxiety play a mediating role between measures of school and family strain and his or her total number of offenses. Participants consisted of 79 detained youth from a short-term detention center in the U.S. Southwest. There were 91% male and 9% female participants, with an age range of 11 to 17 years of age. The study consisted of 53.2% Latino(a), 25.3% White, 8.9% multiracial, 5.1% African American, 3.8% Native American, and 1.3% Vietnamese. Results from hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that school strain and a composite measure of strain were significantly associated with total number of offenses. School strain was significantly associated with depressive and anxious symptoms. Family strain and the composite measure of strain were only significantly associated with depressive symptoms. No significant association was found between the internalizing problems of depression and anxiety and total number of offenses. Therefore, depression and anxiety did not mediate the role between the measures of school and family strain and total number of offenses. Implications of these findings, as well as limitations and areas of future research are also discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College