News Release

News briefs from the American Sociological Review

Neighborhood violence affects disadvantaged youth and the influence of family and religion on youth delinquency

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Sociological Association

WASHINGTON, DC — Research published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review examines issues surrounding families, communities, youth and delinquency. The following briefs highlight selected sociological findings.

Older Peers Shape Teen Choices in Violent Neighborhoods

Teen boys living in disadvantaged areas face particular threats beyond their own neighborhoods and are therefore more likely to spend time with older peers than are their counterparts in more advantaged areas, reports David J. Harding of the University of Michigan.

Youths from other neighborhoods are potential enemies rather than potential friends, resulting in a restricted set of possible friends. For boys in these neighborhoods, Harding finds, older peers become a more attractive choice—in part because they provide a source of protection.

Harding analyzed interview data from 60 adolescent boys from three Boston neighborhoods to find that older peers in disadvantaged neighborhoods have a strong influence on adolescent boys' decisions regarding violence and other domains, such as romantic relationships. This article links violence, older peers and socialization, suggesting that neighborhood violence plays a role in the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.

("Violence, Older Peers and the Socialization of Adolescent Boys in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods," by David J. Harding, University of Michigan, in the American Sociological Review, June 2009, pp. 445-464)

Family and Religious Environments Deter Delinquent Behaviors of Teens, Young Adults

Living with two parents deters youths from becoming delinquent, according to Ball State University sociologist Richard J. Petts' analysis of how family and religious characteristics influence delinquency trajectories from early adolescence through young adulthood.

Petts finds that supportive parenting practices reduce the likelihood of children becoming involved in delinquent behavior early in adolescence. His findings also suggest that family and religion interact to predict delinquency trajectories. Specifically, religion enhances the effect of parental affection in deterring delinquent behavior and lessens the risk of delinquent behavior among young people in single-parent families.

Petts' analysis links family transitions with increases in delinquency, but religious participation throughout adolescence and marriage are associated with declines in delinquent behavior.

Overall, this study suggests that youths' family and religious environments early in life can have long-term consequences for their participation in delinquent activity and that family and religious changes can alter delinquency patterns over time.

("Family and Religious Characteristics' Influence on Delinquency Trajectories from Adolescence to Young Adulthood," by Richard J. Petts, Ball State University, in the American Sociological Review, June 2009, pp. 465-483)


The research articles described above are available by request for members of the media. Contact Jackie Cooper, ASA's Media Relations Officer, at or (202) 247-9871.

The American Sociological Review is the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association.

About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

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