Perceived Crime and Informal Social Control in the Neighborhood as a Context for Adolescent Behavior: A Risk and Resilience Perspective

By Nash, James K.; Bowen, Gary L. | Social Work Research, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Perceived Crime and Informal Social Control in the Neighborhood as a Context for Adolescent Behavior: A Risk and Resilience Perspective


Nash, James K., Bowen, Gary L., Social Work Research


Greater understanding of adolescent perceptions of peer behavior can contribute to the development of effective interventions targeting adolescent problem behavior. The investigation discussed in this article drew from social disorganization theory to examine the effects of perceived neighborhood informal social control and perceived neighborhood crime on adolescents' perceptions of peers' behavior. The study used a nationally representative sample of 2,099 public middle and high school students. Results are discussed in the context of risk and protective processes that can guide prevention efforts for promoting a more supportive neighborhood environment.

Key words: adolescence; crime; neighborhoods; peers; resilience; risk

A risk and resilience perspective provides a useful roadmap for conducting research on adolescent prosocial and problem behavior. Substantive theory and earlier research direct attention to potential risk and protective factors at the individual, family, school, neighborhood, and broad environmental levels. Building from this knowledge base, studies can be designed to examine the nature of relationships among selected factors at a subset of system levels. Results from these investigations have implications for building theory and for designing and implementing effective interventions (Fraser & Galinsky, 1997).

Using this perspective, the investigation discussed in this article drew on social disorganization theory to identify and examine neighborhood-level risk and protective factors that are hypothesized to influence adolescents' perceptions of prosocial and problem behavior among neighborhood peers. It is important to understand these perceptions and the conditions that influence them, because they represent a key component of the social context that influences and constrains the decisions and behavior of adolescents.

The interpersonal, community, and institutional settings in which adolescents participate strongly influence their values, orientations, and behavior (Bowen & Chapman, 1996; Farrell & Bruce, 1997; Guterman & Cameron, 1997; Hinton-Nelson, Roberts, & Snyder, 1996; Nettles & Pleck, 1993; Williams, Stiffman, & O'Neal, 1998). Structural and normative properties in these settings operate as a "field of forces" (Lewin, 1951) that constrains pure volunteerism through sets of behavioral prescriptions and proscriptions. A critical setting in which adolescent behavior originates and occurs centers on peer groups. Crane (1991) formulated a social contagion model to account for the increased prevalence of adolescent problems in neighborhoods facing serious economic and social obstacles and argued that the chief agent for the spread of problems among adolescents is peer influence. He demonstrated that exposure to high levels of problematic behavior among neighborhood peers increased the risk of engaging in similar behavior.

Of the many social circles in which adolescents participate, peers represent an important comparison point for adolescents in evaluating their own attitudes and behavior (Gillmore, Hawkins, Day, & Catalano, 1992), especially for early adolescents (Steinberg, 1996). Furthermore, adolescents' estimates of the prevalence of high-risk behaviors among peers are predictors of their own likelihood of engaging in the same behaviors (Gerrard, Gibbons, Benthin, & Hessling, 1996; Gibbons, Helweg-Larsen, & Gerrard, 1995).

Although a number of studies have focused on the role of adolescent friendships and peer acceptance on adolescent attitudes and behavior (for example, East et al., 1992; Walters & Bowen, 1997), few studies have examined the perceptions of adolescents about the behavior of their peers in specific contexts, such as in neighborhoods and schools. Even fewer studies have attempted to identify conditions that influence these perceptions. Using a nationally representative sample of 2,099 adolescents, the present investigation examined the perceptions of adolescents about the level of prosocial and problem behavior among peers of about the same age in their neighborhood. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Perceived Crime and Informal Social Control in the Neighborhood as a Context for Adolescent Behavior: A Risk and Resilience Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.