Longitudinal Effects of Juvenile Recidivism and Justice Contact on Parent-Adolescent Relationships
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Human Development and Family Science
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Research consistently shows that parents play a significant role in the etiology and desistance of delinquent behaviors (Cottle et al., 2001; Flanagan et al., 2019; Hoeve et al., 2009). However, much research has not examined whether delinquent behaviors prompt changes in parent-adolescent relationships; and even fewer studies have examined this effect for adolescents involved in the justice system (Calhoun et al., 2015; Cavanagh & Cauffman, 2017; Gault-Sherman, 2012; Meldrum et al., 2017; Tapia et al., 2015). The few studies that exist show that continued offending behaviors and justice involvement may hinder necessary resources and supports from parents, supports that are needed to encourage desistance from offending (Stern & Smith, 1999; Villeneuve et al., 2019; Weaver, 2019). Framed by family stress theory, this dissertation sought to understand how recidivism, via types of justice contact, may impact the relationship between justice-involved youth and their parents. Specifically, this project examined the association between adolescent justice contact (e.g., police contact, arrest, court appearance, adjudication, and placement) and change in their relationship with their parents using longitudinal mixture models. Using secondary data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, a seven-year longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders, this study modeled patterns of adolescent justice involvement and change in parental warmth and hostility over time. Specifically, this dissertation examined change and stability in justice contact using latent transition analysis (LTA). After modeling justice contact, adolescent-reported warmth and hostility from both mothers and fathers was used to examine the intercept and slope (or rate of change) parent-adolescent relationships overtime using parallel-process latent growth models. Finally, the LTA model was associated with the latent growth model to determine whether and how parent-adolescent relationships may be affected by youth justice involvement over time. Results of this study showed consistency in parent-adolescent relationship quality for low-rate and desisting justice-involved youth and increases in parent-adolescent relationship quality for persistent and high-rate offending youth. These findings are interpreted using concepts of family stress theory, examined for limitations, and recommendations were made for future directions. This study's findings provide important information regarding how patterns of juvenile recidivism may affect parent-adolescent relationships and how particular justice contacts may impact adolescent’s connection with their parents. This study, and those that come after, may be critical in informing practice and policy for justice-involved youth and their families by providing evidence for models of family involvement and family-based treatment for justice-involved youth (Paik, 2017; Perkins-Dock, 2001; Walker et al., 2015).