Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A multi-level analysis of the relationship of school socioeconomic status to adolescent delinquent behavior
by Katz, Abigail Sherman, Ph.D., Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, 2009, 129; 3342174
Abstract (Summary)

The impact of social context on individual behavior is of concern to scholars, policy makers and program professionals. Many researchers have sought to assess the impact of social context, primarily neighborhoods, on a range of adolescent behaviors. This dissertation seeks to fill a gap in the literature by exploring the effect of school socioeconomic status (SES) on adolescent delinquent behavior.

The current interest in the effect of context on individual outcomes stems from developments in several disciplines over the past two decades. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s influential theory of Human Ecology depicts the various social contexts in which human development occurs. Other scholars, such as William J. Wilson and Susan Mayer and Christopher Jencks, highlight the contextual effects of aggregate disadvantage and its impact on individual outcomes. Additionally, Travis Hirschi’s Control Theory was considered to explain how school attachment might impact delinquent behavior.

Using multi-level statistical modeling, this dissertation was designed to test the impact of aggregate school SES on delinquent outcomes among in-school adolescents. This study also sought to explore the moderating effect of gender and race and the mediating effect of school attachment on the relationship between school SES and delinquent behavior.

This study produced promising evidence, both reinforcing established knowledge and producing new information and guidance for future research. At the individual level, this study confirmed the known association between gender (being male) and family structure (not living in a two parent household) and delinquent outcomes.

This study also offers insights into school effects and cross-level effects on delinquent outcomes. It provides evidence that type of delinquency is important when looking at school effects. This study produced new evidence regarding the direction of both the school SES/delinquency and school safety/delinquency effect. In this study delinquent behavior was associated with higher-income schools and safer schools. Finally, this study supports continued investigations of the moderating effect of both race and gender. In this study school effects were found for males and sub-scale analyses revealed variation in racial effects by delinquency type.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Klerman, Lorraine V.
Commitee: Booth, Jeb A., Cross, Theodore, Goodman, Elizabeth
School: Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Department: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Criminology
Keywords: Adolescent, Delinquency, School effects, Socioeconomic status
Publication Number: 3342174
ISBN: 978-0-549-99414-5
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