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Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency








Initiated in 1986, the Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency (Causes and Correlates) is designed to improve the understanding of serious delinquency, violence, and drug use by examining how youth develop within the context of family, school, peers, and community. Causes and Correlates comprises three coordinated longitudinal projects: the Denver Youth Survey, directed by David Huizinga at the University of Colorado; the Pittsburgh Youth Study, directed by Rolf Loeber, Magda Stouthamer-Loeber, and David Farrington at the University of Pittsburgh; and the Rochester Youth Development Study, directed by Terence P. Thornberry at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

The three Causes and Correlates projects use a similar research design. All of the projects are longitudinal investigations involving repeated contacts with youth during a substantial portion of their developmental years. In each project, researchers conduct individual, face-to-face interviews with inner-city youth considered at high risk for involvement in delinquency and drug abuse. Multiple perspectives on each child's development and behavior are obtained through interviews with the child's primary caretaker and, in two sites, through interviews with teachers. In addition to interview data, the studies collect extensive information from official agencies, including police, courts, schools, and social services.

Causes and Correlates represents a milestone in criminological research because it constitutes the largest shared-measurement approach ever achieved in delinquency research. The three research teams work together to ensure that certain core measures are identical across the sites, including self-reported delinquency and drug use; community and neighborhood characteristics; youth, family, and peer variables; and arrest and judicial processing histories.

Denver Youth Survey
The Denver Youth Survey is based on a random sample of households in high-risk neighborhoods of Denver, CO. The survey respondents include 1,527 children and youth (806 boys and 721 girls) who were age 7, 9, 11, 13, or 15 in 1987 and who lived in 1 of the more than 20,000 households randomly selected from disadvantaged neighborhoods with high crime rates. Interviews with the youth and one caretaker were conducted annually from 1988 to 1992; this process resumed in 1995 and continued through 1999. The project has a high rate of retention, with completion rates of 91 to 93 percent in the first 5 years and a constant 80-percent rate for the 1995-98 period.

Pittsburgh Youth Study
The Pittsburgh Youth Study began with a random sample of boys in the first, fourth, and seventh grades of the Pittsburgh, PA, public school system. Information from the initial screening was used to select the top 30 percent of boys with the most disruptive behavior. This group of boys, together with a random sample of the remaining 70 percent who showed less disruptive behavior, became the sample for the study. The sample contains approximately 500 boys at each grade level, for a total of 1,517 boys. Each student and a primary caregiver were interviewed at 6-month intervals for the first 5 years of the study; teacher ratings of the student were also obtained. The middle sample (fourth grade) was discontinued after seven assessments. The youngest sample (first grade) and oldest sample (seventh grade) are currently being interviewed at annual intervals, with totals of 16 and 14 assessments, respectively. The study has been highly successful in retaining participants, with a retention rate of at least 85 percent for each assessment.

Rochester Youth Development Study
The Rochester Youth Development Study sample consists of 1,000 students (729 boys and 271 girls) who were in the seventh and eighth grades of the Rochester, NY, public schools during the spring semester of the 1988 school year. Males were oversampled because they are more likely than females to engage in serious delinquency and students from high-crime areas were oversampled based on the assumption that they are at greater risk for offending. This project is a 12- wave prospective panel study in which members of the sample and one of their parents were interviewed at 6-month intervals from 1988 to 1992 and at annual intervals from 1994 to 1996. At the end of wave 12, in spring 1997, 846 of the initial 1,000 subjects were reinterviewed (a retention rate of 85 percent); the retention rate for parents was 83 percent.
OJJDP Contact(s)

Janet Chiancone
Associate Administrator, Budget and Administration Division

OJJDP Publication(s)
Causes and Correlates of Girls' Delinquency
April 2010. This bulletin presents findings on strategies to reduce or prevent girls' involvement in delinquency and violence. 20 pages. NCJ 226358.
PDF(5 MB) 
Co-occurrence of Delinquency and Other Problem Behaviors
November 2000. This Bulletin examines the co-occurrence or overlap of serious delinquency with drug use, problems in school and mental health problems. 8 pages. NCJ 182211.
PDF(180 KB)HTML(7.60 KB) 
Developmental Pathways in Boys' Disruptive and Delinquent Behavior
December 1997. This bulletin summarizes longitudinal research from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, which has documented three developmental pathways that boys follow as they progress to more serious problem behaviors. 20 pages. NCJ 165692.
PDF(280 KB)HTML(5.96 KB) 
Early Precursors of Gang Membership: A Study of Seattle Youth
December 2001. This bulletin presents results of Seattle’s Social Development Project, which examines the question of why young children and teenagers decide to join gangs. 6 pages. NCJ 190106.
PDF(101 KB) 
Epidemiology of Serious Violence
June 1997. This study examines the varying levels of juveniles' involvement in violent acts according to age, sex, and ethnicity and recommends a public health model of prevention, treatment, and control. 22 pages. NCJ 165152.
PDF(296 KB)Text(44.2 KB) 
Family Disruption and Delinquency
October 1999. This study examines the relationship between family disruption and delinquency. 6 pages. NCJ 178285.
PDF(51.6 KB)HTML(4.26 KB) 
Gang Members and Delinquent Behavior
June 1997. This bulletin presents findings from the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) concerning what portion of delinquency in the U.S. can be attributed to gang members. 6 pages. NCJ 165154.
PDF(287 KB)Text(27.1 KB) 
Highlights of Findings From the Denver Youth Study
April 1999. This fact sheet presents highlights of findings from the Denver Youth Survey, a longitudinal study of urban youth aimed at identifying social conditions, personal characteristics, and developmental patterns linked to sustained involvement in delinquency and drug use. 2 pages. NCJ 247792.
PDF(74.4 KB)Text(7.67 KB) 
Highlights of Findings From the Pittsburgh Youth Study
February 1999. This fact sheet presents highlights from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a longitudinal study looking at how and why boys become involved in delinquency and other problem behaviors. 2 pages. NCJ 175085.
PDF(69.9 KB)Text(7.56 KB) 
Highlights of Findings From the Rochester Youth Development Study
April 1999. This fact sheet presents highlights from the Rochester Youth Development Study, a longitudinal study that investigated the causes and consequences of adolescent delinquency and drug use. 2 pages. NCJ 181861.
PDF(70 KB)Text(8.15 KB) 
In the Wake of Childhood Maltreatment
August 1997. This bulletin presents findings on the relationship between childhood maltreatment and subsequent adolescent problem behaviors as determined by the Rochester Youth Development Study. 16 pages. NCJ 165257.
PDF(220 KB)Text 
Predictors of Youth Violence
April 2000. This bulletin describes a number of risk and protective factors that produce or prevent youth violence. 12 pages. NCJ 179065.
PDF(241 KB)HTML(8.15 KB) 
Risk Factors for Delinquency: An Overview
January 2003. This article presents an overview of risk factors related to juvenile delinquency. 11 pages. NCJ 207540.
PDF(437 KB)HTML(7.91 KB) 
Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Victimization
Feburary 2002. This bulletin examined how adolescent victimization affects a victim's life during both adolescence and adulthood. 16 pages. NCJ 191210.
PDF(289 KB)HTML(7.24 KB) 
Teenage Fatherhood and Delinquent Behavior
January 2000. The Rochester Youth Development Study and the Pittsburgh Youth Study have tracked a sample of urban males through their teenage years and have provided data indicating that prior involvement in delinquent behavior increases the risk that a boy will become a teenage father and that becoming a teen father may lead to further delinquency. 8 pages. NCJ 178899.
PDF(87.9 KB)HTML(4.59 KB) 
Truancy: First Step to a Lifetime of Problems
October 1996. This bulletin describes seven promising community programs that are reducing truancy and juvenile delinquency by enlisting and coordinating a broad array of local resources. 8 pages. NCJ 161958.
PDF(698 KB)Text(38.3 KB) 
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