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Trajectories of Delinquency Among Puerto Rican Children and Adolescents at Two Sites

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2009 Pages: 144-181
Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina; Alex R. Piquero; Wesley G. Jennings; Hector Bird; Glorisa Canino
Date Published
May 2009
38 pages
This study examined the trajectories of delinquency among Puerto Rican children and adolescents in two cultural contexts.
Results identified five unique delinquency trajectories among Bronx participants but only four among San Juan participants. Aside from the lack of many substantive differences across sites, the findings indicate that the risk factors were more similar than different and suggests more generality in the causal processes associated with delinquency, with the important exception that acculturation was related to offending in one of the Bronx trajectory groups. There were important site differences with respect to the number of trajectories and the overall average level of delinquency among trajectories. Although the smallest group in the San Juan trajectory analysis demonstrated the highest rate of delinquency across both sites in general, the Bronx youth and the majority of the Bronx trajectory groups displayed more elevated levels of delinquency compared with the San Juan youth and the San Juan trajectory group. An analysis of how the risk and protective factors varied across the trajectories yielded results similar to those observed in some American-based samples; but, in analyses that compared some Hispanic-specific variables, unique patterns emerged. When the risk and protective factors were considered together, the findings indicated that some factors emerged as more salient than others. For example, in the Bronx, sensation seeking and exposure to violence strongly discriminated offender from nonoffender trajectories. In San Juan, the results were substantively the same. So, even though the youth live in different cultural, social, and ecological contexts, the results were, for the most part, more similar than different. Data were collected from children aged 5 to 13 years from two sites: San Juan and Caguas, Puerto Rico and the South Bronx in New York City. Tables, figures, notes, appendix, and references