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Does Substance Use Exacerbate Escalation Along Developmental Pathways of Covert and Overt Externalizing Behaviors Among Young Men?

NCJ Number
Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2018 Pages: 137-147
Helene R. White; Fiona N. Conway; Jennifer F. Buckman; Rolf Loeber
Date Published
June 2018
11 pages
Since the delinquency pathway model proposes that the majority of those who engage in serious delinquent acts have gone through a sequence of externalizing behaviors from less to more serious delinquent behaviors, the current study examined whether the frequency of alcohol, marijuana, and hard drugs exacerbated escalation through the covert and overt pathways.
Data used came from the youngest cohort of the Pittsburgh Youth Study. The young men were followed from mean age of 7 to mean age of 20. Sequences of offending were based on ages of onset of covert and overt delinquent behaviors. Survival analyses were conducted to examine the associations of frequency of use with risk for and timing of movement from the lowest to the highest level in each pathway. The study found that the frequency of alcohol and marijuana use was related to greater risk of moving from the lowest to the highest level in both pathways, and hard drug use compared to non-use was associated with moving from minor aggression to violence. The study concludes that reducing the frequency of substance use may interrupt escalation through the covert and overt pathways for young men once they enter the first level. (publisher abstract modified)