Union Formation and Maturation of Juvenile Delinquents: A New Look at Development and Desistance in Early Adulthood
Using Waves 1, 3, and 4 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study analyzed how early criminal justice involvement, net of juvenile delinquency was related to three distinct outcomes in early adulthood among a recent cohort of young men. My research questions examined how being detained or arrested prior to the age of 18, in addition juvenile delinquent involvement, influence first co-residential union formation (Chapter II), levels of psychosocial maturation in early adulthood (Chapter III), and adult criminal offending (Chapter IV). In general, I found that criminal justice contact prior to the age of 18 and juvenile delinquency exert independent effects on social and psychosocial outcomes in early adulthood. More specifically, I found that being detained and engaging in crime as a juvenile were associated with an increased likelihood of entering a co-residential union prior to the age of 25. Of the three components that make up psychosocial maturation (e.g., temperance, perspective, and responsibility), temperance was the only factor hindered by early criminal justice contact. I also found that being detained was associated with a decrease in overall levels of psychosocial maturation in early adulthood. In Chapter IV I found that being detained or arrested prior to the age of 18 were each associated with higher levels of criminal offending in early adulthood. Furthermore, co-residential union status, romantic history, and psychosocial maturation independently influenced criminal offending in early adulthood. In particular, being currently married or cohabiting were each related to lower levels of criminal offending than being single. Yet consistent with limited prior research, cohabiting men reported, on average, higher levels of criminal offending, compared to their married counterparts. Numbers of cohabiting and sexual partners were also associated with higher levels of offending in early adulthood. Finally, higher levels of temperance and perspective were related to lower levels of criminal involvement. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of studying the long-term effects of early criminal justice contact, net of adolescent delinquent involvement on multiple life domains.