Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Youth with conduct problems (CP) generally fall into two developmental classifications, child-onset and adolescent-onset, which exhibit different causal processes and life course trajectories. Research suggests that child-onset CP is more likely to be related to individual predispositions, while adolescent-onset CP is more associated with social factors, such as peer delinquency. Living in impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods increases the risk for associating with deviant peers. Thus, the current study tested the hypothesis that neighborhood factors would be more strongly associated with adolescent-onset CP than child-onset CP, which would be explained by a greater association with deviant peers. Linear and negative binomial regressions were used to test these associations in a sample of 1,127 justice-involved adolescents using surveys, official arrest data, and census-derived neighborhood data. Age of onset moderated the associations between neighborhood disadvantage (ND) and official arrests but not self-reported offending. As predicted, the association between ND and official arrests was stronger in youth with adolescent-onset CP. Similarly, age of onset moderated the associations between peer delinquency and arrests but not self-reported offending, and again, the effect was stronger in youth with adolescent-onset CP. Finally, peer delinquency mediated all relationships between ND and antisocial behavior. The results of this study support the importance of peer delinquency when trying to explain how living in a disadvantaged neighborhoods may be related to antisocial behavior.



Committee Chair

Frick, Paul J.