The belief that delinquent youth associate with each other is a point of agreement among most researchers exploring how negative peer influences contribute to delinquent behaviour. Attempts to understand how peer influence relates to delinquency have resulted in three schools of thought. The first, known as the ?peer influence perspective’, suggests that inadequate parental supervision and discipline provides adolescents the opportunity to associate with friends who have a negative influence on them. A second theory regarding parenting, negative peer influence and delinquency maintains that the development of delinquent behaviour differs for early and late starters. Due to inadequate parenting, early starters are driven to associate with deviant peers because of their aggressive and uncooperative behaviour toward law-abiding peers. Late starters, on the other hand, experiment with delinquency in late adolescence due to a deterioration in parenting quality which can occur during a family crisis such as divorce or unemployment. According to this model, early starters are at risk of career criminality, whereas late starters tend to grow out of criminal behaviour fairly quickly. Finally, ?control theory’ holds that inadequate parenting causes some adolescents to be impulsive, self-absorbed and daring, so they are more attracted to activities that involve delinquent behaviour (Simons, Wu & Conger, 1992).

Crime prevention models acknowledge the risk factors associated with crime and recommend early intervention into the family and young people’s lives. Crime prevention models promote the health and well-being of the unborn child by educating expectant mothers of the importance of receiving adequate nutrition and abstaining from smoking, alcohol and other drugs. At birth, efforts are concentrated on preventing child abuse and offering practical supports for parents such as home visiting and drop-in programs, peer support activities, family planning seminars, and educational groups for parents. Crime prevention models also intervene at the preschool level by addressing the aggressive behaviour of toddlers. It is commonly believed that, “not only does early aggression predict later aggression, it also serves as a risk predictor for a variety of other negative outcomes including later delinquency, conduct disorder, school maladjustment and substance abuse” (Olweus as cited in National Crime Prevention Council, 1996). As a result, crime prevention models promote early childhood care and education with family involvement, as well as societal actions to reduce violence in the home. Finally, crime prevention strategies attempt to intervene at the formal education levels. The goal is to improve school outcomes because, “academic, social, and behavioural success in this environment predict[s] adjustment and productivity in later years” (National Crime Prevention Council, 1996). School-based initiatives are programs that are based in the school, but involve cooperation with families and other community agencies because experiences at home and in the community ultimately affect the youth’s performance in school. Similarly, events at school can impact the youth in other settings and, therefore, school serves as a link to the family and community.


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