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Personal networks as risk and protective factors for arrests among homeless and runaway youth

Trina Rose, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Crime among juveniles has become one of the most significant problems for criminologists today. Arrest and detainment can have affects on social ties, and likewise, social ties are known to be either risk or protective factors for crime and delinquency. Objective. There are two key foci of this research among homeless youth. The first goal of this study is to determine if initial network characteristics are different among youth who have been arrested and/or detained prior to the study and those who have not. The second is to determine if network characteristics are associated with increased or decreased odds of arrest over time. Method. Using The Midwest Longitudinal Study of Homeless Adolescents (MLSHA), the first analysis will explore whether having an arrest prior to the inception of the study affects the size, origin, and relation to network ties at the beginning of the study. Next, I explore how the size, origin, and turnover of personal network ties affect self-reported arrests, controlling for personal and environmental factors associated with arrests. Results. Findings from the first analysis indicate that prior arrest predicts having more street and fewer home network ties, and that those who have not been detained are less likely to nominate parental ties or emotional family ties. Results from the second analysis indicate that nominating more non-familial instrumental network-ties increased the odds of arrest over time for homeless and runaway youth. Among emotional network ties, maintaining more ties decreased odds of arrest, whereas adding and dropping ties increased the odds of post-runaway arrests over time. Among instrumental network ties, adding ties increased the odds of post-runaway arrests over time. Conclusion. The main implication of this study is that unstable network ties are risk factors with reference to arrests of homeless and runaway youth. This is important because instability already tends to be high among this population, and it implies that one form of stability, network-ties, can act as a protective factor against arrest.^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Rose, Trina, "Personal networks as risk and protective factors for arrests among homeless and runaway youth" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3369394.