Testing a model of delinquency with Samoan adolescents

Summary: This study uses an integrative framework that includes various theories on delinquency to explain the relative contribution of factors on delinquency among Samoan adolescents and their overrepresentation in the Juvenile Justice System. Some 275 Samoan adolescents were recruited for the study from the states of Hawaii and Washington. Structural equation modeling was employed for the analysis.

Findings: Two models were analyzed. One model tested all the factors regardless of economic status. The full model fits the data well. The other model utilized economic conditions as a moderating factor (multigroup model). The multigroup invariance shows that the measurement model appears to fit better with the higher income group rather than the lower income group. The results suggest that while acculturative stress has a direct impact on delinquency, family cohesion can be a deterrent to high acculturative stress on delinquency particularly for the higher income group. The major hypothesis was confirmed by the data to show that there was a predictive relationship between involvement with antisocial peers and delinquency, and prosocial peers and no delinquency. However, it varied by income group. The higher income group showed a stronger predictive relationship of the involvement with prosocial peers and low delinquency.

Applications: Given the results, it is imperative for social workers to understand the impact of acculturation on family members and their family functioning. A better understanding of culture and how it operates within a family as well as an understanding of cultural identity is an important part of service to Samoan families.

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