Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Justice


Research from control theorist Walter Reckless has shown that positive self-image acts as an insulator from delinquency during adolescence. Current research investigates the connection between an individual’s self-perceptions and their inclination toward delinquency, hypothesizing that rates of delinquency will be lesser for an individual with a positive perception of self. Data from Wave I of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health are compared to follow-up data with participants in Wave II so reported self-image may predict subsequent delinquency. Ordered logistic regression is used to estimate the significance of self-image effects on delinquency, and probability scores for participation in delinquency have been generated based on reported levels of self-image. Variables considered include measures of self-efficacy and self-expectations, which are compared to rates of delinquency and other risk factors among the sample. Results show that positive self-image does act as an insulator from delinquency, with increasing levels of self-image significantly decreasing delinquency at the .01 level, and reducing the probability of participating in delinquent acts, supporting the research of Walter Reckless. These findings promote the development and encouragement of positive self-image during adolescence, when youth are impressionable, need guidance, and positive reinforcement.