Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 36 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Joanne M Kaufman

Committee Members

Zoya Gubernskaya, Steven F Messner


Family structure, Fragile Families, Juvenile Delinquency, Parent-child Relationship, Parental Incarceration, Social Control Theory, Families, Dysfunctional families, Social control, Juvenile delinquency

Subject Categories

Criminology | Sociology


Families come in many different structures and sizes, therefore; it is critical to examine how families impact children. Empirical research has shown that a child’s upbringing has the potential to influence delinquent behavior. However, existing literature using Fragile Families has not tested this association at the most recent wave. This thesis examines the relationship between family structure, relationships with parents, conventional beliefs, parental incarceration and juvenile delinquency at age 15 using Hirschi’s social control theory. Data from year 15 of Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing is employed to test these relationships using ordinary least squares regression models. Models one through four were used to investigate the impact of demographics, family structure, parental attachment, parental involvement, and conventional beliefs on a delinquency index. Model five includes all of the previous variables to examine the significance of all variables together. Results indicate support for social control theory’s bonds of attachment, involvement, and belief. The family structures of two parent step-family and other caregiver are no longer significant indicators of juvenile delinquency when parental attachment is considered. These results have implications for family policy in the areas of family relationship quality and parental incarceration.

Included in

Criminology Commons