Depression and offending in a sample of Mexican American adolescents

Date

2008

Authors

Gonzalez, Jorge Eduardo

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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between depression and delinquency in a sample of Mexican American students in Grades 7 through 9 in a South Texas U.S. School district (n=3,186) as part of a longitudinal (seven wave) study of risky health behaviors among adolescents. The survey instrument included questions regarding depressive symptoms, personal stress, self-esteem, delinquency and drug use. The sample is drawn from a lower-income majority Hispanic school district and is considered representative of the Mexican-American population in the United States. There was an increased prevalence of minor drug use in students in higher grades, students with a higher amount of absences from school, as well as students with higher occurrences of depressive symptoms. In regards to major drug use there was an increased prevalence in students with higher amount of absences from school, as well as students with higher occurrences of depressive symptoms. Minor delinquency was prevalent in those students with higher absences from school, as well as those with higher occurrences of depressive symptoms. Serious delinquency was present in students with a higher amount of absences from school, as well as those students with higher occurrences of depressive symptoms. The study revealed that adolescents who have more absences from school and those with higher occurrences of depressive symptoms are more likely to engage in drug use as well as delinquent activities. Furthermore, evidence was found that students who experience lower amounts of personal stress and those with high levels of self-esteem are less likely to partake in drug use and delinquent activities. The need for psychiatric intervention should be considered for those adolescents with higher depressive symptoms so to prevent adolescent delinquency and drug use.

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Keywords

Adolescent, Delinquency, Depression, Drug Use, Mexican American, Offending, criminology, clinical psychology, public policy, Hispanic American studies

Citation

Department

Criminal Justice