Methods: This study uses data from waves 1, 3, and 4 of the public use National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We first conducted latent class analyses to characterize youth in terms of patterns of (1) AEs and (2) criminal/socially deviant behaviors. Next, multinomial regression was used to assess the relationship between patterns of AEs and patterns of criminal/deviant behavior (CDB), adjusting for socio-economic and demographic factors. Finally, we assessed the moderating effect of two parenting variables [mother/youth closeness (MYC) and parental monitoring (PM)] on the relationships between patterns of AEs and patterns of CDB.
Results: Results from the AEs LCA indicated 4 classes: Class 1 (low levels of adversity), Class 2 (adverse experiences that occurred outside the home – i.e., being robbed), Class 3 (adverse experiences that occurred in the home – i.e., physical and sexual abuse), and Class 4 (experienced sexual assault outside the family). The CDB LCA indicated 3 classes: Class 1 (no criminality), Class 2 (primarily violent offenses – i.e., fighting, use of weapon), and Class 3 (offenses in every category – i.e., stealing, violence, use of drugs).
Results from our regression models revealed that both MYC and PM moderated relationships between AEs and CDB. For example, for youth in AE class 1, as levels of MYC decreased the probability of engaging in violent offenses increased; for youth in AE class 2 and 4, results were opposite (decreased MYC = lower probability of engaging in violent offenses). For PM, among youth in AE class 1, the probability of engaging in violent offenses increased as levels of PM increased; conversely, for youth in AE class 4, the probability of engaging in violent offenses decreased as levels of PM increased.
Conclusion: Parents’ roles in buffering youth from engaging in CDB are contingent on the nature of adversity that youth face. For instance, too much monitoring of youth with no AEs can increase CDBs yet youth who have been sexually assaulted have better outcomes as PM increases. Given these findings, overall, efforts to promote positive parenting as a way to reduce risky youth behavior should be attuned to the varied responses that youth have to parenting depending on the types of AEs they have had.