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Police Contacts, Arrests and Decreasing Self-Control and Personal Responsibility Among Female Adolescents.

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Volume: 59 Issue: 12 Dated: 2018 Pages: 1252-1260
Alison E. Hipwell; Joseph Beeney; Feiei Ye; Sabrina H. Gevreselassie; Madeline R. Stalter; Kate Keenan; Dyuti Ganesh; Kate Keenan; Stephanie D. Stepp
Date Published
9 pages
In this study, police contacts, arrests, levels of self-control, and personal responsibility were assessed annually for a population-based sample of 2,450 adolescent females between ages of 12 and 17.
Female involvement in the juvenile justice system (JJS) has increased rapidly in recent years. Although deficits in self-control and responsibility are associated with delinquency and higher rates of police contacts and arrests, much of this research has focused on males and/or selected samples of youth who already have a history of JJS involvement. Furthermore, little is known about the extent to which police contacts and arrests may disrupt normative psychosocial maturation. In the current study, fixed-effects regression models, which control for stable individual characteristics, were used to examine whether within adolescent changes in self-control and responsibility were associated concurrently and prospectively with police contacts and arrests, and vice versa. The study found that across adolescence, 5-12 percent of participants reported police contacts and 1-4 percent were arrested. After adjusting for co-variates, within-person increases in self-control and responsibility were associated concurrently with decreased odds of police contact. Increasing responsibility also predicted lower likelihood of police contact in the following year. When testing reverse causation, results showed that police contact predicted next-year decreases in personal responsibility, and that being arrested predicted decreasing levels of self-control and responsibility in the following year. Overall, this study shows more clearly than previous work that increasing levels of responsibility preceded decreased police contact in non-selected adolescent females, and that contacts with the justice system during adolescence may delay or undermine normative psychosocial maturation, highlighting important targets for intervention. (publisher abstract modified)