Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ellis Gesten, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Becker Bryant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Brannick, Ph.D.


resilience, schools, externalizing behaviors, assets, interactions


Longitudinal studies that track individuals from childhood into adulthood may be the best method to identify risk and protective factors for crime and delinquency. The primary goals of this study were to determine 1) the ability of risk factors identified by the end of elementary school to predict delinquency referrals, 2) the extent to which positive assets (promotive factors) add to the prediction of delinquency, and 3) potential interactions between these risk and promotive factors that moderate the relationship between risk and delinquency referrals. The final purpose was to identify gender and racial differences in these relationships. The current study utilized archival data from a large metropolitan Florida school district which tracked students who began kindergarten in the 1989-90 school year for as long as they remained in the district. After controlling for gender, race, and SES, fifth grade teacher rated externalizing behaviors, prenatal smoking, parent marital status, and mother’s years of education significantly predicted delinquency referrals. The biological factors birth weight and Apgar score were not related to delinquency referrals in correlation or regression models. Additionally, the combination of the nine potential promotive factors was found to contribute to a significant increase in variance above that accounted for by the three viii control factors and nine risk factors. The most consistently supported promotive factor was parental acceptance/involvement. Although no interaction effects were found in the overall model, when analyzed by gender, two significant interactions were found for females. These interactions were between parents’ martial status and parental acceptance involvement as well as third grade standardized reading scores and parent educational involvement. Findings suggest that, even when using a stringent test of significance, risk factors assessed between birth and the end of elementary school can be used to predict the number of subsequent delinquency referrals. In conclusion, results from this study not only identify and confirm early risk factors for later delinquency involvement, but also implicate potential positive assets that may buffer the impact of early risk factors. These findings can inform early intervention programs aimed at reducing rates of juvenile delinquency, by identifying criteria for early identification as well as components of effective prevention/intervention.