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The Development of Persistent Criminality$
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Joanne Savage

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310313.001.0001

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Strain, Social Support, and Persistent Criminality

Strain, Social Support, and Persistent Criminality

(p.71) CHAPTER 4 Strain, Social Support, and Persistent Criminality
The Development of Persistent Criminality

Stephanie Ellis

Joanne Savage

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role of adolescent strain and social support in the etiology of persistent offending. After reviewing the literature on persistent criminality, strain theory, and social support, it presents some of the analysis, using National Youth Survey data. The data suggest that early adolescent strain is associated with young adult nonviolent criminality. The findings also suggest that social support experienced in early adolescence has a marginal, negative effect on both violent and nonviolent offending in young adulthood. In addition, social support appears to mitigate the effects of strain. For example, while there is a three-fold difference in young adult nonviolent offending between high and low strain individuals with low social support, those with high social support had low nonviolent offending regardless of the level of strain. The chapter is more tentative about the findings for violence. While the direct relationship between early adolescent strain and later violent behavior was not statistically significant, the interaction between strain and later social support was. The data suggest that individuals who reported low levels of social support and high levels of strain committed more violent acts in young adulthood than other subjects. The chapter recommend a program of longitudinal research on high-risk children to further examine the types of traumatic strain, intensity, and timing that may lead to very serious and chronic antisocial behavior.

Keywords:   strain theory, social support, chronic offending, persistent offending, life-course criminology, crime

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