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Adolescent risk behaviors: Considering the influences and interactions of multiple contexts

Dissertation
Author: Megan Mayberry
Abstract:
This study examines the joint impact of social contexts and social influences on adolescent development by examining contextual systems, such as peers, parents, school, and community. Participants included 14,548 middle school students comprised of 78.6% White, 5.4% Biracial, 4.8% Asian, 4.8% Black, and 3.6% Hispanic. Participants completed a survey with scales assessing risk behaviors (sex, substance use, and delinquency), peer influence, parental influences, and characteristics of their school and community. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to consider the variation of parental and peer influences on risk behaviors while evaluating the influences of school and community. Results indicated that all Level 2 variables (school climate, positive sense of community, community resources, extracurricular involvement) influenced the school mean level risk behaviors. Results also showed that contextual variables moderated the relationship between peer and parental influence on risky behaviors, thereby acting as protective factors. The findings of the current research are important because they inform a more complex theoretical understanding of adolescent development and they identify specific contextual factors that can be fostered with appropriate programs and interventions to reduce negative development in adolescence.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW 6 Ecological Model 6 Theories of Deviant Behavior 7 Parent Influence 11 Peer Influence 15 Social Learning Theory and Social Control Theory 20 CHAPTER 3 METHOD 24 Participants 24 Measures 25 Level One Variables 26 Level Two Variables 30 Outcome Variables 34 Procedures 37 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS 38 Alcohol/Drug Use 39 Smoking 47 Sexual Behavior 56 Hard Drugs 63 Delinquency 66 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION 69 REFERENCES 77 APPENDIX A DANE COUNTY YOUTH ASSESSMENT 86 AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHY 107 v

LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1 Study Sample Size Grouped by Schools and Demographics 24 2 Factor Loadings From Maximum Likelihood Method of Extraction of Parent Communication, Knowledge, Support, and Value Items 28 3 Factor Loadings From Maximum Likelihood Method of Extraction of Substance Use 35 4 Between- and Within-Group Variance Components and Intraclass Correlations 39 5 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of School Climate on Alcohol/Drug Use 43 6 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Sense of Community on Alcohol/Drug Use 44 7 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Extracurricular Involvement on Alcohol/Drug Use 46 8 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Community Resources on Alcohol/Drug Use 47 9 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of School Climate on Smoking Cigarettes 51 10 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Sense of Community on Smoking Cigarettes 52 11 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Community Resources on Smoking Cigarettes 53 12 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Extracurricular Involvement on Smoking Cigarettes 54 13 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of School Climate on Risky Sexual Behavior 59 14 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Sense of Community on Risky Sexual Behavior 60 VI

Page 15 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Community Resources on Risky Sexual Behavior 61 16 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Extracurricular Involvement on Risky Sexual Behavior 62 17 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Sense of Community on Hard Drug Use 65 18 Hierarchical Models for the Effect of Sense of Community on Delinquency 68 vn

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In this paper, a social-ecological framework of adolescent risk behavior is presented (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, 1979). This framework recognizes the importance of understanding and integrating the influences of numerous contexts (e.g., parents, peers, community, school) on adolescent behavior. Within this social-ecological framework, two influential theories with foundations derived from sociological and criminological theory are applied: Social Learning Theory (Burgess & Akers, 1966) and Social Control Theory (Hirschi, 1969). Concepts from Social Learning Theory are applied to parental and peer influences on adolescent risk behaviors. Social Control Theory is used to examine the potential role of school climate, community resources, extracurricular involvement, and a sense of positive community on adolescent problematic behavior. Adolescent behavior is shaped by a range of nested contextual systems, including family, peers, school, and communities (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, 1979). The ecological perspective provides a conceptual framework for investigating the joint impact of these social contexts and social influences on adolescent development. One system described within this framework is the microsystem. The microsystem contains structures with which the adolescent has direct contact. The microsystems examined in the current study are peers, parents, school, and community. Another system described by the ecological framework is the mesosysytem, which comprises the interrelations among microsytems. Thus, for an adolescent, the mesosystem might encompass interactions among various microsystems such as family, peers, school, and community. To add to this literature, various mircrosystems and mesosystems are examined using 1

theories of deviant behavior, Social Learning Theory, and Social Control Theory, in order to understand how these various systems predict adolescent deviant behavior. Within the ecological framework, parents are an important microsystem that influences adolescent behavior. How parents influence adolescent behavior is best described by Social Learning Theory. Parents create the context in which children develop, act as role models for appropriate behavior, provide positive and negative reinforcements for behaviors, and teach children morals and values. The parental factors examined in the current study include monitoring, communication with adolescents about risky behavior, parental support, and parental values. Parental monitoring has been shown to reduce problematic behavior among adolescents (Dishion, Patterson, & Reid, 1988; Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000; Metzler, Noell, Biglan, Ary, & Smolkowski, 1994) including drug use (Denton & Kampfe, 1994) and early sexual experiences (Hogan & Kitagawa, 1985). Research has also indicated that parental communication about the dangers of risky behavior has been an influential factor in reducing adolescent problematic behavior (Chassin, Presson, Todd, Rose, & Sherman, 1998). Similarly, empirical work suggests that parents who are responsive and show care for their children are remarkably successful in protecting their adolescents from problem behavior (Marta, 1997). Finally, Jessor and Jessor (1977) speculated that adopting non-conventional values from parents would be associated with greater adolescent involvement in problematic behavior. Another important microsystem influencing adolescent behavior that is examined in this study is the adolescent's peer group. Association with peers who display deviant behavior is predictive of adolescent deviant behavior (Loeber & 2

Dishion, 1987; Patterson, Dishion, & Yoerger, 2000; Warr, 2002). Peers influence behaviors by acting as role models (Kaplan, Johnson, & Bailey, 1987), influencing the development of defining behaviors as right or wrong (Brendgen, Vitro, & Bukowski, 2000; Jessor, Jessor, & Finney, 1973), reinforcing deviant behavior (Esbensen & Deschenes, 1998), and providing a context for behavioral development (Loeber & Dishion, 1987; Warr, 2002). Parental and peer contexts have received most of the attention in the literature. This study investigates two other important microsystems that might influence the development of adolescent risk behavior: school and community. Hirschi (1969) developed Social Control Theory to explain youth delinquency, focusing on social bonds to institutions. Hirschi postulates that deviant behavior becomes more probable as the individual's bond to society's systems weakens. Hirschi describes four components of this bond: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Attachment refers to the extent to which an adolescent is attached to important systems, such as school. School climate has been identified as an attachment factor, which fosters adolescent resiliency (Bonny, Britto, Klosterman, Hornung, & Slap, 2000) and is associated with late onset of sexual behavior in adolescence (Small & Luster, 1994) as well as late onset of alcohol and drug use (Eitle & Eitle, 2004) and delinquent behavior (Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004). Commitment refers to the time, energy, and self invested in conventional behaviors. Communities that have resources to provide opportunities to engage in conventional behavior might foster a bond between individuals and the community. Empirical work has found that community resources affect a wide range of adolescent 3

behaviors such as school achievement (Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, Klebanov, & Sealand, 1993), behavioral problems (Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, & Klebanov, 1994), and sexual behavior (Billy, Brewster, Grady, & Moore, 1994). Involvement suggests that participation in extracurricular activities will keep an adolescent from engaging in deviant behavior. Empirical studies have reported that adolescents who are not involved in extracurricular activities tend to display problematic behaviors in high school (Mahoney, 2000; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997). Finally, belief refers to the existence of a common value system within the society (Hirschi, 1969). Generally, if an adolescent does not have a positive sense of community, he or she would be less apt to follow conventional rules of good behavior. Fostering a strong sense of community involvement has been effective in preventing substance abuse (Pentz et al., 1989), risky sexual behavior (Vincent, Clearie, & Schluchter, 1987), and delinquency (Kazdin, 1987). Thus, assessing the community environment and how safe and secure an adolescent feels within that environment is a meaningful addition to this study. One challenge within adolescent development research is the difficulty in empirically demonstrating that some contextual factors, such as school and neighborhood, affect adolescent problematic behavior above and beyond the influence of the more intimate contexts such as parents and peers. Throughout the past few decades, contributions from a variety of fields and researchers (Dempster, Laird, & Rubin, 1977; Lindley & Smith, 1973) have provided applications capable of working with nested, multilevel data structures. Recent advancements by Raudenbush and Bryk (2002) in the development of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) are used to assess 4

these contextual influences. In this study, HLM is used to consider the variation of parental and peer influences on risk behaviors while also evaluating the influences of school and community, thereby creating a more complete model of the dynamics of various factors influencing adolescent risk behavior. In conclusion, this study examines the contextual systems that might predict adolescent risk behavior and how these contextual systems interact with one another to create both protective and risk factors. First, it was hypothesized that a significant amount of variance in student risk behaviors would exist between schools. Second, it was also hypothesized that school climate, number of extracurricular options, community resources, and sense of community would account for a significant amount of the variance between schools. Third, it was hypothesized that adolescents who report that their friends have sex, use alcohol/drugs, and engage in delinquent acts will also engage in these activities more frequently than those adolescents who do not perceive their peers as engaging in these activities. Fourth, it was hypothesized that adolescents who perceived their parent as not supporting them, not knowing about their lives, and having values that endorse risky behaviors will engage in more risk behaviors. Finally, it was hypothesized that school climate, sense of community, extracurricular activity involvement, and community resources would act as buffers for adolescent risk behavior. Specifically, it was expected that friends and parental factors would be more influential in predicting risk behaviors when schools had a less positive school climate, fewer community resources, fewer extracurricular activities, and a less positive sense of community. 5

CHAPTER2 LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter, the ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, 1979) and the development of Social Learning Theory (Burgess & Akers, 1966) are reviewed. Next, literature on the influences of parental and peer factors on adolescent risk behavior is discussed in the context of a Social Learning perspective. Then, Social Control Theory (Hirschi, 1969) is reviewed and used to examine contextual factors (i.e., community and school) that might influence adolescent risk behavior. Finally, gaps in the literature and analytic procedures are discussed and the study hypotheses are resented. Ecological Model Adolescent behavior is shaped by a range of nested contextual systems, including family, peers, school, and communities (Brofenbrenner, 1977, 1979). The ecological perspective provides a conceptual framework for investigating the joint impact of these social contexts and social influences on adolescent development. One system described within this framework is the microsystem. The microsystem contains structures with which the adolescent has direct contact. The microsystems examined in the current study are peers, parents, school, and community. Each microsystem structure involves bi-directional interactions between adolescents and their environment. For example, school climate might influence adolescent behavior, and this behavior could, in turn, influence school climate. Another system described by the ecological framework is the mesosysytem, which "comprises the interrelations among major settings containing the developing 6

person at a particular point in his or her life" (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, p. 515). Thus, for an adolescent, the mesosystem might encompass interactions among various microsystems such as family, peers, school, and community. Understanding how various contextual factors simultaneously interact and contribute to adolescent risk behavior is an important endeavor to inform policy, intervention, and theory (Kupersmidt, Griesler, DeRosier, Patterson, & Davis, 1995; Goldstein, Davis-Kean, & Eccles, 2005). To add to this literature, various mircrosystems and mesosystems are examined using theories of deviant behavior, Social Learning Theory, and Social Control Theory, in order to understand how these various systems predict adolescent deviant behavior. Theories of Deviant Behavior Chicago School The empirical study of societal influences on adolescent deviant behavior has a long tradition in sociology, psychology, criminology, and developmental psychology. Chicago School refers to the first works derived in the 1920s that attributed deviant behavior to socially disorganized cities, characterized by impoverished economic and social conditions unable to control the behavior of adolescents (Shaw & McKay, 1942). Early observational (Shaw & McKay, 1931) and self-report (Short, 1957) studies reported strong correlations among delinquency, delinquent peers, and parental influences. More recent empirical investigations have confirmed these findings (Dishion, French, & Patterson, 1995; Elliott & Menard, 1996), stressing the importance of peer and parental influences on problematic behavior. 7

Differential Association Theory Differential Association Theory (Sutherland, 1947) was derived from the work of Shaw and McKay (1942) and states that deviant behavior is a learning process occurring primarily through social interaction with others. Sutherland's (1947) theory is best understood by considering his nine postulates: 1. Criminal behavior is learned. 2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. 3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups. 4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes simple and the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes. 5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable. 6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of the law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. 7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. 8. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anticriminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning. 9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, because non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values, (pp. 6-7) In summary, this theory stresses the process of learning behavior, primarily through social interactions. One of the most principal postulates is the sixth, pertaining to learning definitions favorable or unfavorable to deviant behavior. Definitions are underlying principles or rationalizations that motivate behavior. For example, if an 8

adolescent endorses the definition that "cheating is the only way to get ahead," then this adolescent might be motivated to engage in cheating behavior. If there are more definitions favorable to deviant behavior, deviant behavior is the result. The values and definitions adolescents learn from social interactions will either support or oppose deviant behavior. Social Learning Theory Social Learning Theory (Burgess & Akers, 1966) was developed as an extension and clarification of Differential Association Theory. Social Learning Theory is a general theory that explains the acquisition of, maintenance of, and change in deviant behavior while considering social and nonsocial factors that influence the expression of deviant behavior (Akers, 1985). Within this study, Social Learning Theory is used to explain the potential influence of parent and peer microsystems on adolescent risk behavior. Social Learning Theory focuses on four primary learning mechanisms: differential associations, definitions, differential reinforcement, and imitation (Akers, 1985). Differential association refers to the process by which one is exposed to normative definitions favorable or unfavorable to deviant or non-deviant behavior. Differential association has both interactional and normative dimensions. The interactional dimension includes interactions with others and the identification with more distal reference groups. The normative dimension includes the patterns of norms and values individuals are exposed to in their social contexts. Differential association is an important concept because the groups with which adolescents engage in the process of differential association (e.g., peers and family) provide the social context in which all 9

mechanisms of social learning operate, such as role modeling and reinforcement. For example, parents and peers not only expose adolescents to normative definitions; they also act as role models and provide reinforcement for behaviors. The most influential contexts are those that occur early in life, have longer durations, are more frequent, and involve those with whom the adolescent has an intimate relationship. Definitions refer to an adolescent's attitude and meanings that he or she will attach to behaviors. Social Learning Theory conceptualizes definitions as both general and specific (Akers, 1985). General definitions include moral and conventional values and norms that are favorable to conforming behavior. Specific definitions orient the person to specific behaviors. For example, an adolescent might believe that it is morally wrong to vandalize property and that these laws should be obeyed, while at the same time feel justified to drink alcohol and violate drinking laws. Social Learning Theory distinguishes between negative, positive, and neutralizing definitions. Negative definitions are beliefs that reinforce confirmatory behavior, such as, "It is wrong to kill people or steal." Positive definitions make deviant behaviors morally desirable or permissible; for example, an adolescent might drink alcohol in protest of the 21-year- old drinking age. Neutralizing definitions favor deviant behavior through means of justifications or rationalizations; for instance, an adolescent might think, "It is OK to have sex at an early age as long as my partner loves me." Differential reinforcement is the balance of rewards and punishments that follow a given behavior (Burgess & Akers, 1966). Thus, an adolescent will develop deviant behavior depending on the past, present, and anticipated future rewards and punishments for this behavior. Positive reinforcement provides rewards and positive 10

outcomes, which increase the probability of the desired behavior. For example, the probability of adolescents using substances will increase if their peers offer positive social support for this behavior. Negative reinforcement is when the desired behavior is enhanced because a person wants to avoid an aversive event. For example, the probability of an adolescent not engaging in substance use might increase in order to avoid getting caught by parents or the police. Lastly, imitation is an important learning mechanism that influences the expression of deviant behavior. Imitation is the engagement in behavior after the observation of similar behaviors in others. Bandura (1977) stressed that the characteristics of the models, the behavior observed, and the observed consequences affect whether or not the observed behavior will be imitated. Therefore, salient role models in an adolescent's life can both introduce and maintain various behavioral patterns. The four social learning variables interact with each other and are part of an underlying process that dictates adolescent behavior. The social learning perspective on problematic behavior suggests that deviant behavior is more likely when primary associates, such as parents and peers, provide behavioral models, deviant definitions, and reinforcement for risky behavior. Parent Influence Social Learning Theory Within the ecological framework, parents are an important microsystem that influences adolescent behavior. The literature overwhelmingly suggests that parents' 11

behaviors have a direct effect on their children's expression of problematic behavior (Blanton, Gibbons, Gerrard, Conger, & Smith, 1997; Denton & Kampfe, 1994). The process by which parents influence adolescent behavior is best described by Social Learning Theory. Ideally, the family provides conventional, non-deviant definitions, conforming role models, and the reinforcement of positive behavior via discipline and monitoring. In the family, differential association, behavioral models, and reinforcement of attitudes and behavior typically promote non-deviant behavior. However, deviant behavior might be directly affected by deviant parental role models, ineffective parental monitoring and discipline, and the endorsement of values and attitudes favorable to deviance. Patterson and his colleagues have shown that social learning processes in parent-child interactions are strong predictors of deviant and non- deviant behavior (Patterson, 1975; Wiesner, Capaldi, & Patterson, 2003). The parental factors examined in the current study include monitoring, communication with adolescents about risky behavior, parental support, and parental values. Each factor and how it relates to adolescent risk behavior will be discussed below. Monitoring Parental monitoring has been shown to reduce problematic behavior among adolescents (Dishion et al., 1988; Leventhal & Brooks-Gunn, 2000; Metzler et al., 1994) including drug use (Denton & Kampfe, 1994) and early sexual experiences (Hogan & Kitagawa, 1985). Patterson and Dishion (1985) used structural equation modeling and found that parental monitoring has both an indirect and direct effect on adolescent deviant behavior. The correlation between the lack of parental monitoring and youths' problem behavior has been replicated and appears robust across diverse 12

samples, definitions, community settings, and measurement techniques (for a review, see Dishion & McMahon, 1998). However, the conceptualization of parental monitoring has recently been questioned in the literature (Kerr & Stattin, 2000). In the past, parental monitoring has been conceptualized as an action or behavior that parents do (Dishion & McMahon, 1998) and has been identified as an important indicator for childhood problematic behavior such as delinquency, substance abuse, and early intercourse (Dishion, Spracklen, Andrews, & Patterson, 1996). However, Kerr and Stattin (2000) argued that monitoring is more of what parents know and less about what parents do. Their research utilized survey methodology to collect data from 736 14-year-old Swedish adolescents. Results indicated that parent-child communication was a significant predictor of problematic behavior (i.e., 44% of the variance), whereas parental solicitation and control added very little to explain problematic behavior (i.e., 3% of the variance). Stattin and Kerr (2000) concluded that it is less of the behavior of parents that influences adolescent behavior; rather, it is how much an adolescent discloses about his or her behavior that influences behavior. In the current investigation, considering this new interpretation of parental monitoring, monitoring is conceptualized using both parents' knowledge about their adolescent's whereabouts and activities from the adolescent's perspective. Communication Related to parental monitoring, communication is another factor that influences adolescent development. Research has indicated that parental communication is positively correlated with the psychological and social adjustment of adolescents and 13

negatively correlated with deviant behavior (Farrell & Barnes, 1993). Similarly, parental communication about the dangers of risky behavior has been an influential factor in reducing adolescent problematic behavior (Chassin et al., 1998). Cleveland, Gibbons, Gerrard, Pomery, and Brody (2005) studied 897 families over five years using both survey and interview methodologies. Using structural equation modeling, these researchers showed that parental communication explained 11% of the variance of adolescent substance use, both directly and indirectly. Research has also suggested that parental communication might be an important factor in adolescent sexual behavior (Luster & Small, 1994; Rogers, 1999). The current study assesses parental communication by asking adolescents how often they engage in conversations with a parent about sex, substance use, future plans, and worries. Support The role of parental support in adolescent risk behavior has been widely examined. Empirical evidence suggests that parental support serves as a protective factor against smoking (Marta, 1997), risky sexual behavior (Henrich, Brookmeyer, Shrier, & Shahar, 2006; Markham et al., 2003), and substance use (Field & Sanders, 2002; Springer, Parcel, Baumler, & Ross, 2005). Parental support in the current study is conceptualized as adolescents' perception of parental care and support by their parents. Values The last parental factor considered in this study is parental values. Jessor and Jessor (1977) speculated that adopting non-conventional values from parents would be associated with greater involvement in problematic behavior. Small and Luster (1994) supported this speculation and found that permissive parental values regarding sexual 14

behavior was a significant risk factor for both males and females. Social Learning Theory highlights that values endorsed by parents create a context in which adolescents begin to develop their own values and definitions of appropriate behavior. Social Learning Theory also postulates that adolescents will attain their values by observing their parents' behaviors and attitudes (Bandura, 1969). Research has indicated that an adolescent's perception of parental values is a good indicator of transmission of values (Acock & Bengtson, 1978). Therefore, parental values in the current study are assessed by asking the adolescent if his or her parents perceive specific risk behaviors (e.g., sexual intercourse, substance use, delinquency) as wrong. Peer Influence Social Learning Theory Another important microsystem influencing adolescent behavior and psychosocial development is the adolescent's peer group. For adolescents, friends are providers of companionship, social support, emotional support, and intimate self- disclosure and reflection (McNelles & Connolly, 1999). Although peer relationships have potential to contribute to positive psychosocial development, peer relationships can also be a source of risk for some adolescents. More frequent, longer-term, and closer association with peers who are not deviant is strongly correlated with non-deviant behavior, while association with peers who display deviant behavior is predictive of adolescent deviant behavior (Loeber & Dishion, 1987; Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986; Patterson et al., 2000; Vitaro, Brendgen, & Tremblay, 2000; Warr, 2002). From a Social Learning perspective, peers influence behaviors by acting as role models (Kaplan 15

et al., 1987), influencing the development of definitions (Brendgen et al., 2000; Jessor et al., 1973), reinforcing deviant behavior (Esbensen & Deschenes, 1998), and providing a context for differential association (Loeber & Dishion, 1987; Warr, 2002). Homophily Hypothesis Considerable debate has emerged in the literature about whether or not deviant adolescents have the capacity to foster friendships. Some literature suggests that delinquent adolescents lack the social skills to develop friendships (Putallaz & Gottman, 1981) and are often rejected by their peers (Dodge, Pettit, McClaskey, & Brown, 1986); however, other studies have suggested that delinquent adolescents do develop friendships (Cairns & Cairns, 1991). One hypothesis that has emerged regarding the development of delinquent social networks is the homophily hypothesis (Cohen, 1977; Kandel, 1978), stating that peer groups and relationships form on the basis of within-group similarities. Adolescents choose friends with similar characteristics (Berndt, 1996), and adolescents that engage in problematic behavior tend to gather in social situations that foster such behavior (Curran, Stice, & Chassin, 1997). The homophily hypothesis is consistent with Social Learning Theory, as both peer selection and peer socialization are important components of within-group similarities. Empirical studies have shown homophily regarding aggressive behavior (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Gest, & Gariepy, 1998; Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003), general delinquency (Dishion et al., 1996; Matsueda & Anderson, 1998), sexual behavior (Flick, 1986) and drug use (Aseltine, 1995; Kandel, 1973). Thus, adolescents who engage in negative behavior are attracted to similar peers, and these peers will further reinforce negative behavior. 16

Perception of Deviant Behavior In addition to peers influencing delinquent behavior, scholars have found that adolescents who perceive their friends as having sex (French & Dishion, 2003; Newcomb, Huba, & Bentler, 1986; Romer & Stanton, 2003) and using drugs and alcohol (Aseltine, 1995) will also engage in this behavior more frequently. Therefore, it is not only the behavior of peers that might foster deviant behavior, but also the perception of peer deviant behavior. In the current study, it was hypothesized that adolescents who report that their friends have sex, use alcohol/drugs, and engage in delinquent acts will also engage in these activities more frequently than those adolescents who do not perceive their peers as engaging in these activities. Social Control Theory Parental and peer contexts have received most of the attention in the literature. This study investigates two other important microsystems that appear to play a role in the development of adolescent risk behavior: school and community. Hirschi (1969) developed Social Control Theory to explain youth delinquency, focusing on social bonds to institutions. Hirschi postulates that deviant behavior becomes more probable as the individual's bond to society's systems weakens. Hirschi describes four components of this bond: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Stronger bonding with social systems (i.e., school, community, family, and peers) increases the likelihood that an adolescent will conform to the conventional behavior of society. The weaker these bonds are, the more likely the adolescent will engage in deviant behavior. Three components of bonding, attachment, involvement, and belief, are described in relation to the current study. 17

Full document contains 116 pages
Abstract: This study examines the joint impact of social contexts and social influences on adolescent development by examining contextual systems, such as peers, parents, school, and community. Participants included 14,548 middle school students comprised of 78.6% White, 5.4% Biracial, 4.8% Asian, 4.8% Black, and 3.6% Hispanic. Participants completed a survey with scales assessing risk behaviors (sex, substance use, and delinquency), peer influence, parental influences, and characteristics of their school and community. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to consider the variation of parental and peer influences on risk behaviors while evaluating the influences of school and community. Results indicated that all Level 2 variables (school climate, positive sense of community, community resources, extracurricular involvement) influenced the school mean level risk behaviors. Results also showed that contextual variables moderated the relationship between peer and parental influence on risky behaviors, thereby acting as protective factors. The findings of the current research are important because they inform a more complex theoretical understanding of adolescent development and they identify specific contextual factors that can be fostered with appropriate programs and interventions to reduce negative development in adolescence.