Moffitt's Delinquency Abstention: An Examination of the Predictors of Adolescent Refrainment from Crime
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Adolescent delinquency is a common phenomenon that has been studied extensively for decades. Much is known about the factors which influence youth involvement in activities such as underage drinking, smoking, and drug use. However, to this point, there exists only limited theoretical and empirical research which focuses on the personal and social characteristics of adolescents who abstain from antisocial behaviour altogether. This study seeks to examine the personal attributes, impact of peers, and social bonds that influence refrainment from delinquency. This study uses the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Cycle 3, conducted in 1998-1999 to investigate the correlates of abstention. Prior research has established causal links between certain variables and abstention (such as few associations with delinquent peers, less autonomy, and strong academic inclinations). Moffitt (1993) argues that abstainers are more likely to be socially excluded from deviant peer groups based on their unappealing personal characteristics. This study attempts to ground the mixed results garnered from several studies regarding Moffitt’s abstention hypotheses. Further, this study examines in more depth the direct, mediating, and interaction effects of several individual and social correlates of delinquency abstention. The results of this thesis indicate that negative traits are not consistently associated with abstention. As well, the strongest direct correlates of abstention are school commitment and relationship with parents. These appear to be mediated by delinquent peer associations. Suggestions for future research are discussed.