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Victim-Offender Overlap: Specifying the Role of Peer Groups

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2003
244 pages
This study examined the relationships among adolescents’ peers, involvement in delinquency, and adolescent risk of victimization.
Previous research has consistently linked adolescents’ delinquency to their peer group involvement. Although much is known about delinquency, a gap in the literature remains concerning risk of victimization. Since some adolescents alternate between offending and victimization, the same factors that influence delinquency may also influence victimization. This study examined three main research questions: (1) is there a casual connection between offending and victimization; (2) how do peers influence the risk of victimization and the relationship between offending and victimization; and (3) what is the influence of social context on the relationships among victimization, offending, and peers? Chapter 1 reviews the literature concerning adolescent delinquency and victimization, discusses the alternating relationship between adolescent offending and victimization, and presents the three research questions. Chapter 1 also introduces the social network perspective as the main theoretical underpinnings of the current research and reviews the literature concerning the school context and the victim-offender overlap. Chapter 2 discusses the data and methods; data were drawn from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which is a nationally representative sample of 90,118 juveniles in grades 7 through 12. The Add Health includes three data components: in-home interviews, in-school interviews, and school administrator interviews. Chapter 3 describes the sample selection criteria and the final sample used in this analysis, which included 2,000 adolescents who provided information on all variables under consideration. Chapter 4 presents the multivariate relationships between offending and victimization. Results of logistic regression analysis and non-linear two-stage least squares logistic regression indicate that adolescents who offend are at a significantly higher risk for victimization than are their non-offending peers. This relationship remained after controlling for potentially important variables. An understanding of adolescents’ involvement in crime as offenders is important to understanding their risk of victimization. Chapter 5 presents the results of bi-variate probit models that probed the victim-offender overlap and the role of the school context in the relationships between offending, victimization, and peers. Overall, it was discovered that school context does not significantly influence the victim-offender overlap. Chapter 6 presents conclusions and a summary of the major findings. Figures, tables, references, appendix

Date Published: December 1, 2003