Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (Ph.D.)


Criminal Justice


Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David L. Myers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kendell Coker, Ph.D.

LC Subject Headings

Families, Juvenile justice, Administration of--Parent participation, Parenting, Grandparenting, Regional disparities, Juvenile delinquency


While the important role of various psychosocial factors in the development of criminality has long been acknowledged, many researchers, criminologists and criminal justice professionals firmly believe that family is specifically at the core. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the relationships among family structure stability, parenting practice dimensions, and concurrent/subsequent delinquent behaviors, both theoretically and empirically. This study investigates how immigrant generational status and racial/ethnic disparities modulate associations between the stability of family structure, aspects of parenting practices, and adolescent delinquency, using a nationally representative sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Findings of this study are consistent with social control theories’ predictions that show the protective effects of stable family, intact family structure, and effective parental control on deviant behaviors. Compared to family formation, family dissolution seems to have a lighter impact on youths. High parental warmth consistently protects youths from unwanted behaviors over time, while extreme high levels of direct parental supervision may lead to a “backfiring” effect that relates to later deviant activities in young adulthood. This dissertation does not find as much support for social control theories when testing deviant behaviors among immigrant generational groups. Although first-generation youths report lower parental warmth and lower family socioeconomic status, they are less likely to engage in delinquency and less likely to report substance use than the youths of later generations. The details of the present study’s data and methods, its importance for research and policy, and its limitations are described and discussed.