The three latent classes of adolescent delinquency and the risk factors for membership in each class
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This study used latent class analysis to examine subpopulation membership based on self-reports of delinquent behaviors obtained from Australian youth. Three discrete identifiable classes were derived based on 51 indicators of physical violence, property damage, minor infractions, drug use, and social delinquency. One class of youth engaged in primarily rule breaking and norm violations including underage alcohol use, typical of this age period. A second class was more actively delinquent emphasizing drug use, trespassing, and various forms of disobedience. A third class of highly delinquent youth differed from their counterparts by endorsing drug use, thievery that involved stealing money, goods, and cars, property damage, gambling, precocious sexual experiences, involvement with pornographic materials, and fighting. Multinomial logistic regression predicting class membership indicated highly delinquent youth were more likely to be older males, use venting coping strategies, and be fun or novelty seeking compared with rule breakers. Findings are discussed in terms of refining current taxonomic arguments regarding the structure of delinquency and implications for prevention of early-stage antisocial behavior.
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