Looking Beyond Neighborhood Risk: A Socioecological Examination of Neighborhood Risk and Protective Characteristics on Rule-Breaking Behaviors among at-Risk Youth

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0003-1834-3581
Hofer, Meret, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wilson, Melvin, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Covert antisocial behavior (ASB), such as rule-breaking, is non-violent, disruptive behavior committed with the intention of not being observed. Covert ASB has been linked to child-level, familial, and contextual factors. Despite these multi-dimensional influences, little research has examined the relative impact of each of these predictors in a multi-level developmental model. The purpose of the present study is: (a) to examine the contributions of theoretically-relevant predictors (e.g., child impulsivity, parental monitoring, neighborhood danger and neighborhood cohesion) in a comprehensive socioecological model of rule-breaking, (b) to assess these predictors via child- and parent-reported outcome measures, and (c) to investigate the unique and interactive influences of neighborhood danger and neighborhood cohesion. Results showed that child- and parent-reported models of rule-breaking are differentially influenced by our theoretically-relevant predictors, highlighting important implications for examining covert ASB effectively. Further, neighborhood influences on rule-breaking show unexpected complexity. Specifically, neighborhood cohesion exhibited an entirely protective influence in the parent-model – increased cohesion was associated with lower levels of parent-reported rule-breaking. However, in the child-reported model, neighborhood cohesion interacted with neighborhood danger such that the positive relation between cohesion and child-reported rule-breaking was present only in neighborhoods with less danger. In high-danger neighborhoods, cohesion appeared to amplify rule-breaking.

MA (Master of Arts)
neighborhood factors, neighborhood cohesion, neighborhood danger, rule-breaking, delinquency, antisocial behavior
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