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Trajectories of antisocial behavior among Indigenous adolescents of the northern Midwest

Kelley J. Sittner Hartshorn, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Objective. North American Indigenous (American Indian/Canadian First Nations) adolescents are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. To date, little research has examined the factors associated with antisocial behavior, specifically covert/nonaggressive and overt/aggressive delinquency. Moreover, although sources of informal social control, specifically parents and schools, have been identified as protective influences for youth, they have not been examined with respect to Indigenous youth delinquency. Method. This study utilizes multiple years of data from an eight-wave longitudinal study conducted on 4 United States reservations and 4 Canadian First Nations reserves. At Wave 1, 747 adolescents (ages 10-12 years, approximately 50% female, 50% male) from a single Indigenous culture were interviewed annually. Results. First, each type of delinquency and risk factors associated with them were examined. Covert and overt delinquency each peak at age 15 years. Piecewise linear growth model results show that covert and overt delinquency share many of the same risk factors, including perceived discrimination, alcohol use, and deviant peers. Depressive symptoms were a more consistent predictor of covert delinquency. Next, overlap in covert and overt delinquency was explored. More adolescents engaged in both types of delinquency than in either type individually. Multinomial logistic regression results indicate that increases in depressive symptoms and deviant best friends were associated with decreased odds of engaging in only one type of delinquency compared to both types, whereas increases in positive parenting and positive school adjustment were associated with increased odds of engaging in only one type compared to both types. Increases in overt delinquency were associated with increases in subsequent covert delinquency in middle adolescence, but increases in covert delinquency were unrelated to subsequent overt delinquency once other factors were controlled for. Conclusions. Several risk factors for delinquency seem to be universal among adolescents regardless of racial/ethnic background, such as deviant friends and depressive symptoms. Certain risk factors, specifically alcohol use and perceived discrimination, may be more relevant for Indigenous adolescents. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Native American Studies

Recommended Citation

Hartshorn, Kelley J. Sittner, "Trajectories of antisocial behavior among Indigenous adolescents of the northern Midwest" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3450082.