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Does it matter in what family constellations adolescents live? Reconsidering the relationship between family structure and delinquent behaviour

Published onApr 13, 2022
Does it matter in what family constellations adolescents live? Reconsidering the relationship between family structure and delinquent behaviour
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Does it matter in what family constellations adolescents live? Reconsidering the relationship between family structure and delinquent behaviour
Does it matter in what family constellations adolescents live? Reconsidering the relationship between family structure and delinquent behaviour
Description

Objectives This study examines the associations between ten family structure types and delinquency, including four groups of symmetrical and asymmetrical living arrangements. We also adjust for attachment to parents and parental monitoring. Methods Data are drawn from four cross-sectional surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 in southern Sweden. The sample consists of 3,838 adolescents, aged 14–15. Negative binomial models were used to calculate the associations between family structure and delinquency. Results The results show that those living in single-father, single-mother, father-stepmother, mother-stepfather families report significantly more delinquency than adolescents living with both their parents. Adolescents living in “symmetrical” family arrangements, i.e. both parents are single or have a new partner, reported lower levels of delinquency, whereas adolescents living in “asymmetrical” family arrangements, i.e. where either the mother or the father, but not both, have a new partner, reported higher levels of delinquency. Most of the associations between family structure and delinquency decline when adjusted for attachment to parents and parental monitoring. Discussion This study shows that it is important to move on to the use of more detailed categorisations of family structure in relation to delinquency. We need to increase our knowledge about the group of adolescents that moves between parents and especially about the different constellations of asymmetrical and symmetrical living arrangements.

 

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