Academic journal article The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

Peer-Group Mediation in the Relationship between Family and Juvenile Antisocial behavior/Mediación del Grupo De Amigos En la Relación Entre Familia Y Comportamiento Antisocial Juvenil

Academic journal article The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

Peer-Group Mediation in the Relationship between Family and Juvenile Antisocial behavior/Mediación del Grupo De Amigos En la Relación Entre Familia Y Comportamiento Antisocial Juvenil

Article excerpt

Research on risk factors associated to juvenile antisocial and delinquent behavior has tended to focus on variables related to the family or peer-group. The importance ascribed to these psychosocial variables lies in their relevance to the process of child development and socialization, and their crucial role in internalizing attitudes and acquiring behaviors, the family being the context of reference in childhood and the group of friends in adolescence (Andrews & Bonta, 2010; Granic & Patterson, 2006). Hence, functional aspects of the family and peer-group have been two of the risk factors empirically correlating most strongly to the development of problem behavior (Dahlberg & Simon, 2006). Moreover, the dynamic nature of these variables enables them to be easily modified through interventions (Andrews & Bonta, 2010), aimed at preventing and protecting individuals from the development of problem behavior. Thus, this study assessed these variables in a Spanish juvenile population.

Since the decade of the 1950s, numerous studies have examined the family context as a risk factor for juvenile antisocial and delinquent behavior. Hoeve et al.'s (2009) meta-analysis, which integrated the results of hundreds of studies published from 1950 to 2007, confirmed the direct influence of family variables on juvenile deviant behavior. Moreover, this review of the literature revealed that the most relevant variables were related to family support and parental monitoring. In relation to support, parental affection and understanding was negatively associated to the expression of delinquent behavior, whereas parental neglect and parental rejection or hostility towards children were positively related to this type of behavior. As for parental monitoring, controlling behavior and knowing the activities and whereabouts of children were negatively associated to involvement in antisocial activities, whereas psychological control and inconsistent parental discipline were positively related to antisocial behavior. In short, parenting styles and skills were a powerful factor for predicting the development of antisocial and delinquent behavior.

Simultaneously, parallel to the research on family variables, an alternative line of research has sought to examine the influence of the group of peers, with results on the risk factors of juvenile antisocial behavior being somewhat more consistent: adolescents involved in deviant behavior havefriends whocommitdeviantacts. Thus, several studies have corroborated an intense positive correlation between juvenile delinquent friends and juvenile delinquent activity (Lonardo, Giordano, Longmore, & Manning, 2009; Moreira & Mirón, 2013).

Several hypotheses have been proposed to elucidatethe effect of the peer-group on antisocial behavior. The traditional hypothesis, or socialization hypothesis, based on the conventional sociological theory, psychosocial models of differential association theory (Sutherland, 1939), and social learning (Akers, 1977) contends that the association with deviant peers, and in turn group influence, foster the development of juvenile antisocial attitudes and behavior. An alternative complementary hypothesis, commonly referred to as the selection hypothesis, is underpinned by assumptions such as the coercion model of Patterson, Reid, and Dishion (1992), which claims individuals with certain previous problematic behavior and attitudes select friends and individuals with similar characteristics (Luengo, Gómez-Fraguela, Garra, Romero, & Lence, 1999).

The results obtained in empirical studies testing either or both hypothesis are inconsistent. A number of studies have found data supporting the socialization process (Rodríguez, 2011), others have found supportfortheselectionprocess (Kemp,Scholte,Overbeek,& Engels, 2006), whereas still other authors propose the existence of both the selection and socialization process (Burk, van der Vorst, Kerr, & Stattin, 2012). …

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