Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Like Parent Like Child? The Role of Delayed Childrearing in Breaking the Link Between Parent's Offending and Their Children's Antisocial Behavior

This paper investigates the impact of parents' history of violent offending, their age at first birth, and the interaction of the two on their adolescent children's violent behavior. We employ intergenerational longitudinal data from the Rochester Youth Development Study to estimate parental trajectories of offending from their early adolescence through early adulthood. We show that the particular shape of the parents' propensity of offending over time can interact with their age at first birth to protect their children from delinquency. We investigate these relationships for children at 6 and 10 years of age. We find that for some groups delaying childrearing can insulate children from their parents' offending.

Below: Three Hypothetical Paths of Offending

Below:  Violence Prevalence Trajectory Groups, Waves 1 – 10

Below:  Interquartile Ranges of Age at First Birth By Trajectory Group

...The more important research question is whether among those parents who put their children at risk by having participated in delinquent behavior, are there some relatively distal behaviors that can offset the effects of parental delinquency? That is, can even those parents who are in the high delinquent trajectory groups behave in ways that serve to protect their children from problematic behavior? Specifically, the question posed was whether having children later rather than earlier would serve to offset the effects of high parental involvement in delinquency.

The results answer the question affirmatively for those 10-year-old children of parents who were in the most delinquent trajectory group, the chronic group (group 5). The age of first birth is a protective factor for all three measures of problematic behavior for our 10-year-olds. Moreover, the impact of having parents who are in the group 5 is no longer significant once the interaction between age of first birth and group 5 membership is entered into the equation. It is important to note that this was not the case for the declining group (group 4). Their main effects of group membership on problematic behaviors were reduced to insignificance for two of the three outcomes when the interaction terms were entered into the equations. However, the interaction terms measuring the protective efficacy of delaying childbirth were not statistically significant. So, there is no protective effect of delaying childbirth. Although both group 4 and group 5 were similarly high in their offending patterns initially, the trajectory for group 4 sloped down while group 5 remained relatively high. In contrast, for group 4 (but not group 5) we found some evidence of a supportive effect for the protective role of age of first birth for the 6 year olds. The only significant impact of parental delinquency on the child’s problematic behavior was for the relationship between having parents in group 4 and the Achenbach delinquency scale. The interaction between age of first birth and parental membership in group 4 was significant as well, indicating that delaying having children protects children of relatively high risk parents even at the age of 6. The differences between 6- and 10-years-olds pose interesting questions about how mediators and protective factors might operate at different ages but we leave this for future research...

Full article at:   http://goo.gl/olPNYa

  • 1School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, Albany NY.
  • 2Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, University of Florida, Gainesville FL.
  • 3Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park MD.
  • 4Institute on Urban Health Research, Northeastern University, Boston MA. 
  •  2015;32(3):410-444.

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