Effects of Formal and Informal Deviant Labels in Adolescence on Crime in Adulthood [2017]

The study reported in this article used labeling theory to examine the relationship between multiple labels in adolescence and self-reported criminal behavior in adulthood. This study used childhood, adolescent, and adult interviews (N = 357) from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, which followed a high-risk community sample of individuals recruited from child welfare caseloads and other group settings in Pennsylvania. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate the effects of three measures of labeling (formal legal system involvement, false stops by the police, and reflected parental perceptions) on crime in adulthood. Gender differences also were examined. Reflected parental perceptions of adolescents as deviant were significantly associated with criminal behaviors in adulthood, but both legal system labels (that is, formal legal system involvement and false stops by the police) were not. There were no gender differences in the effect of labeling on later criminal behaviors.

JoAnn S. Lee, Emiko A. Tajima, Todd I. Herrenkohl, Seunghye Hong
Social Work Research, Volume 41, Issue 2, June 2017