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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Although sex is one of the strongest correlates of crime, contentions remain regarding the necessity of sex-specific theories of crime. The current study examines delinquent trajectories across sex among Puerto Rican youth socialized in two different cultural contexts Bronx, United States and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Study limitations and implications for sex-specific criminological theories are also discussed. A consistent criminological fact is that males commit more crime than females, especially serious, person-oriented offenses Braithwaite, Yet, the near-universal consensus regarding the lower participation of females in crime is where agreement regarding sex differences in offending ends.

Researchers are divided as to the reasons why sex differences in offending exist. This controversy has spurned a larger debate about whether sex-specific theories of crime and intervention are necessary. Three conflicting conclusions have been proffered to resolve this debate. The first of these conflicting conclusions argues that sex differences are the norm and require a unique theoretical framework.

Proscribing to a different conflicting conclusion, Zahn notes that while girls and boys experience many of the same risk factors, they differ in sensitivity to and rate of exposure to these risk factors, and further that some risk and protective factors are especially sex-sensitive. Steffensmeier and Allan indicate that while the casual patterns underlying crime for females often overlaps with those for males, there are still important sex differences that produce the larger discrepancies observed, and these differences may be clarified by studying differences in sex norms, moral development and affiliative concerns, social control, physical strength and aggression, and sexuality, all of which work to condition sex differences in criminal opportunities, motives, and contexts.

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Finally, the last of these three conflicting conclusions suggests that an increased focus on sex differences may not be warranted because the causal processes are more similar than different. That is, the complexity associated with developing sex-specific models may be an inefficient means of gaining leverage on the causes of crime. For instance, Moffitt, Caspi, Rutter, and Silva claim that because their analysis of antisocial behavior in the Dunedin Birth Cohort found few sex differences in the causes, correlates, and consequences of antisocial behavior that future research should benefit from adopting a more parsimonious explanation of crime causation.

Reconciling these conflicting views is difficult because empirical research is still developing. Also, researchers have often relied on diverse populations of young women to draw conclusions regarding female pathways into delinquency.

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Examinations of female-specific pathways have been conducted in large epidemiological studies, high-risk clinical samples, and among juvenile offenders. Thus, resolving the incongruent summaries reviewed above may require a careful discussion of selection mechanisms and sample characteristics that underlie each set of research findings. We seek to contribute to this literature in several ways.

First, we gather prospective, self-reported delinquency information among male and female youth who were followed for three years. Second, we focus on Hispanic youth, for which little is known because of the lack of requisite data Morenoff, The strong and consistent relationship between sex and crime has long been recognized: everywhere and at all times, males engage in serious crime at a disproportionately higher rate than females Zahn et al. Due to this discrepancy, early theories were largely created by males to explain male delinquency.

That is, sex differences are observed in high-risk samples and claims are then made regarding etiology of antisocial behavior, often neglecting the powerful selection forces that are at work in determining how girls are pushed into the system. Yet, when sex differences are examined in large-scale epidemiological studies very few sex differences emerge Moffitt et al. The current debate is focused on two issues. First, researchers want to know whether there are differences in developmental pathways, etiology and underlying causal mechanisms that lead males versus females into crime.

Second, practitioners and policy-makers need to know whether sex-specific responses are required for males versus females who end up in the system.

The Sex/Crime Relationship

Herein, we apply data from a large epidemiological study to address the first set of questions regarding etiology and sex differences in antisocial behavior. We acknowledge the importance of research deed to determine whether sex-specific programming and treatment options are required. Indeed, girls have emerged as an important population to study within juvenile justice contexts as: a greater of adolescent girls are arrested and incarcerated in the US than ever before e. As a result, there have been increasing calls for the development of sex-specific programming options for girls in the system Foley, However, due to the strong selection mechanisms at work in determining which young women end up in the system, it is unclear to what extent research from normative samples can help to resolve this issue.

While we acknowledge that there is a need to evaluate sex-specific programming for such women, we concede that our study is not well positioned to address this specific issue just as high-risk samples are not well situated to address questions regarding etiology and causal determinants of crime.

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Using birth cohort data of over 1, males and females from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Human Development Study, Moffitt et al. Three findings stood out. First, fewer females exhibited antisocial behavior, and when females did so, it was less frequent and less serious compared to males. Females did resemble males with respect to alcohol and drug use as well as within intimate relationships with males.

Second, girls did not pass a higher threshold of risk to become as antisocial as boys; rather, there was a linear relationship between antisocial behavior symptoms and poor outcomes, with subclinical conduct problems predicting poor prognosis in adulthood among both males and females. Third, much of the sex difference in antisocial behavior was due to sex differences in the individual risk factors for early-onset and persistent antisocial behavior. In contrast, the adolescence-limited pathway, which is driven more by contextual and social factors, is a more likely track for young women. Two other studies that also utilized the Dunedin Cohort found some interesting patterns regarding male and female trajectories.

For example, Piquero, Brame, and Moffitt identified three male trajectories and two female trajectories. Subsequent analysis suggested that after conditioning on adolescent differences in the propensity to offend using the trajectoriesvariations in adult offending through age 26 were consistent with a random process, implying that after conditioning on adolescent variation in offending, random variation in criminality during adulthood was sufficient to for the adult offending frequency.

Comparatively, Odgers et al.

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In contrast, females on the adolescence-limited pathway appeared to 1 have a relatively normative profile of childhood risk factors and 2 demonstrated very little continuity in their antisocial behavior into adulthood. The etiological origins, developmental pathways and adult outcomes for females following both pathways were consistent across sex.

In a companion set of studies, researchers examined distinct offending trajectories. Among males, two groups stood out: a high-rate adolescent-peaked group, whose offending dropped throughout late adolescence and early adulthood, a high-rate chronic group whose offending was stable between mid-adolescence and the mid 20s, declining thereafter.

Among females, two offender groups were noted. The first, the low-rate adolescent-peaked group, offended over seven years, peaked in mid-adolescence, and desisted soon thereafter, while the second group, the high-rate adolescence-peaked group, had the highest rate of offending at every age, peaked in late adolescence, and then began to desist in the early 20s. Despite the similar shapes and trends, male offending rates were always higher than the rates among females.

Finally, Broidy, Nagin, Tremblay, Bates, Brame, Dodge, Fergusson, Horwood, Loeber, Laird, Lynam, Moffitt, Pettit, and Vitaro used data from six longitudinal studies to examine the developmental course of physical aggression in childhood through early adolescence.

Several findings emerged from their effort.

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First, a similar three to four of trajectories were identified across sex across the studies. Second, in most studies, boys exhibited stronger continuity in problem behavior than girls, and while chronic physical aggression increased the risk for continued delinquency in adolescence among boys, there was no clear link between childhood physical aggression and adolescent offending among girls. Although there were a small of females in the chronic physical aggression groups, they displayed lower levels of aggression, which tended to decrease as females entered adolescence.

Early research noted the ificant overrepresentation of Hispanics in juvenile arrest statistics, and reported that the disproportionate minority contact rate for Hispanics was not far behind that of African Americans Dreyfoos, Flowers also found that Hispanic youth are incarcerated at nearly two times their representation in the general population. Recently, Pabron examined delinquency in a large sample of Puerto Rican males and found that time spent with family was a ificant predictor of delinquency, leading him to suggest that strong family cohesion between Puerto Rican youth and their parents is likely to insulate them from delinquency.

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Samaniego and Gonzales have also identified family conflict and maternal monitoring as key predictors of delinquency for Hispanic youth. Two ethnic-specific risk factors were ificant predictors of delinquency, being born in the U. The appeared to be relatively consistent across community context, indicating that these factors mattered for Hispanic youth residing in communities with either a low or a high concentration of Hispanics.

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Along with qualitative research on sex and crime Miller,the above-referenced studies have generated an important source of data on female delinquency. This is particularly salient in criminology which has not given sufficient attention to cultural differences in delinquency nor has it focused on the offending of minorities.

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This neglect is apparent even with recognition that there are a limited of studies identifying delinquency as an issue among Hispanic youth. The BYS is a matched epidemiological and longitudinal study of Puerto Rican children between the ages of 5 and 13 from two different cultural contexts: 1 standard metropolitan areas of San Juan and Caguas in Puerto Rico and 2 the Bronx in New York.

Bird, Shrout, Davies, Canino, Duarte, Shen and Loeber collected three annual waves of data from the youth between summer and fall The sampling process yielded 1, eligible participants in the Bronx of which 1, were interviewed completion rate of Descriptive statistics indicated that there were roughly equivalent percentages of boys and girls across both sites The mean delinquency rates across the three waves for the Bronx boys was 1.

Covariates listed below were also used to examine the possible sex and site differences in how these factors distinguish the trajectories.

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Items were coded such that higher scores indicated a greater proclivity for participating in risky behaviors. This measure was weighted such that if the violence happened directly to the youth the response was coded as 3, if the violence was witnessed by the youth the response was coded as a 2, and if the youth heard about the violence happening to someone they knew the response was coded as a 1. Each weighted response to a series of questions regarding exposure to a of violent events was summed in order to create the weighted exposure to violence scale, where higher values represented greater exposure to violence.

Higher scores indicated a greater preference for English and Americanized ethnic characteristics. Analyses proceeded in three stages. First, we used a series of mean difference tests to examine possible sex differences in offending and mean covariate levels of the risk factors across sex.

research indicates a substantial degree of heterogeneity in offending over the life-course generally Nagin,as well as across sex Broidy et al.

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The first set of indicates that virtually all of the risk factors ificantly varied across sex and that this variation was observed within the two sites Table 1. In addition, the Bronx boys reported being more acculturated compared with the Bronx girls, and the San Juan boys demonstrated greater exposure to violence compared to the San Juan girls.

It was also the case that the boys at both sites evinced more delinquency across all three waves compared to the girls. In the second stage of the analysis, linear models were used to estimate the trajectories.

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A four group model provided the best fit for the Bronx sample for both boys and girlswhile a three group was best for the San Juan sample for both boys and girls. Table 2 provides a description of the mean frequency of offending for each trajectory by sex, by site, and by wave, while Table 3 presents the maximum posterior membership probabilities for the Bronx and San Juan trajectories by sex. Group 1, representing Group 2 The third group 9. The fourth group 2. Group 1 The second group Group 3 1. The third group 2. ZIP: 00918 00913 00911 00917 00915 00912 00926 00927 00924 00925 00923 00920 00921 00906 00907 00901 00909 00936 00969 00902 00908 00910 00919 00922 00928 00929 00930 00931 00935 00937 00939 00940 00955 00975

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