Development and Psychopathology

Developmental trajectories of boys' delinquent group membership and facilitation of violent behaviors during adolescence

a1 Carnegie Mellon University
a2 University of Montreal

Being part of a delinquent group has been shown to facilitate the expression of an individual's own delinquent propensities. However, this facilitation effect has not been investigated from a developmental perspective within a population heterogeneity model. Using a semiparametric mixture model with data from the Montreal Longitudinal Experimental Study, this article addresses important issues in the developmental trends of membership to delinquent groups. We explore how the rate of violent behaviors follows delinquent peer group trajectories and investigate a differential facilitation effect of delinquent peers on violence across multiple developmental pathways. Results suggest that 25% of males followed a childhood or an adolescence delinquent group affiliation trajectory. These two groups account for most of the violent acts assessed during adolescence. In addition, the rate of violent behaviors follows these developmental trajectories. Controlling for these delinquent group trajectories, we also found that being involved in a delinquent group at any specific time during adolescence is associated with an increased rate of violent behaviors, and that leaving these groups results in a decrease in violent behaviors. This facilitation effect appears homogeneous over time and across developmental trajectories. Results are discussed from a social interactional perspective.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eric Lacourse, GRIP, University of Montreal, 3050 Edouard-Montpetit, Montréacal, H3T 1J7, Canada; E-mail: