The Longitudinal Association Between Family Structure and Adolescent Delinquency: Moderated by Perceived Peer Pressure
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According to the broken homes hypothesis (Kierkus & Baer, 2002), adolescents from non-intact family structures are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior than adolescents from an intact family structure. The present study examined the longitudinal association between family structure and adolescent delinquency, and tested whether this association was moderated by perceived peer pressure. Data of the longitudinal SNARE (Social Network Analysis of Risk behavior in Early Adolescence) project was used. Participants were 1,167 Dutch first and second grade secondary school students, aged 11 to 15 years (M = 13.19) and lived in intact-, single-parent-, and reconstituted families. Self-reports were obtained to measure family structure, delinquent behavior and perceived peer pressure. Results of a multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that family structure and perceived peer pressure were not related to adolescent delinquency over time, controlling for gender, education level and delinquent behavior measured on a preceding wave. Finally, no interaction effect was found of family structure and perceived peer pressure on adolescent delinquency. Findings of the present study do not support the broken homes hypothesis and suggest that statements about the potential negative influence of non-intact family structures on adolescent delinquency should be made more cautiously.