Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul C. Friday

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Wienir

Third Advisor

Dr. Herbert Smith

Fourth Advisor

Mr. Robert Barstow


Delinquency is widespread within American society. Americans are publicly and privately faced with high costs from delinquency. The theoretical development and research are now beginning to shed light upon the dynamics underlying delinquency. To understand and effectively deal with delinquency, more knowledge is necessary on its root causes. This dissertation is intended to provide more etiological knowledge.

Delinquent behavior is seen to be embedded within the interpersonal dynamics of the family at the level of socialization between parents and children. Essentially, the quality of the marital and parent-child dyads can facilitate or impede the socialization of youth. Socialization ineffectiveness leaves youth vulnerable to deleterious forces outside the home.

The major findings are: (a) poor parent-child relationships increase delinquency; (b) low marital adjustment significantly increases delinquency through the parent-child relationships; (c) Blacks have significantly higher delinquency independent from the family; and (d) school is a direct influence on delinquency both independent and in conjunction with the family.

When social class is controlled: (a) in high class families of nonworking mothers, there is higher delinquency; and (b) more affluent Blacks have greater delinquency. In controlling for race, the mothers' nonemployment among White and Black families is differentially more important for school and delinquency. That is, independent of the family, the school is more responsible for delinquency of Blacks. The data on community integration indicate that among families from higher integrated communities, they have significantly greater delinquency when the mother is unemployed. For families with lower community integration, school adjustment is more significantly related to delinquency.

The major conclusions of this work are: (a) the family is an important root cause of delinquency; of primary significance is the family inter-relationships, particularly their socialization ineffectiveness; (b) poor parent-child relationships are directly related to delinquency; (c) marital maladjustment indirectly increases delinquency through the parent-child dyads by reducing their quality; (e) the school contributes to delinquency by continuing poor socialization begun within the family and by reducing school adjustment of children, especially in areas of low community integration; and (f) the delinquency of Blacks is less contingent upon the family, and more a consequence of differential experiences in school and racism in American society.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Criminology Commons