According to research done by Warr

A lot of research has been conducted and hypothesis formulated to determine whether delinquent peer associations precede delinquency or vice versa. Another concern is how age influences delinquency and the interactivity or linkage among age, peer association, and delinquency. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to bring to fore, the various researches, theories and hypothesis that invariably throw more light on this issue.

According to research done by Warr (1993), delinquency escalates rapidly as individuals enter their teen years and then declines almost as rapidly as they enter their late teens and early twenties. A possible explanation for this in my opinion is that youngsters in their early teens tend to be more adventurous and experimental.

They are also easily influenced to try out new habits-good or bad- since often times, they are not experienced enough to know or care about the consequences of their actions. However, as they grow older and of course learn by experience, they inadvertently develop a more matured and balanced approach to the everyday choices they make.

On another note, the fact that a peer group that you belong to engages in unlawful activities helps to validate its relevance and the feeling that it probably is the cool thing to do. Also, because humans are creatures of habit, once they start a habit, say alcoholism, it doesn’t take long before they become addicted.

From another perspective, a criminal activity, say illegal drug use, can form part of general criteria for joining some particular peer groups. This can in no small way influence youths to indulge in these activities just to win the group’s approval or endorsement.

A bone of contention among researchers is which comes first between delinquency and delinquent peer association? Research by Gottfredson and Hirschi (1987), support the notion that delinquency  actually comes before delinquent peer association. Similar researches performed by Thornberry (1994), Elliot and Menard (1996) however, offer opposing views.

It is important to examine the role that age actually plays in delinquent acts. Hypothesis by Elliot and Menard (1996), show that both delinquency and delinquent peer association increase with age.

A more insightful theory is the interactional theory by Thornberry (1987) that suggests that the influence of delinquent peer associations should increase during mid-adolescence and then decline gradually based on the reasoning that the hold that peer groups have on an individual is more pronounced during early stages of adolescence and less so as they grow older and commit to traditional activities like school, family, church, work etc.

Still on the effects that age and delinquent peer association have on delinquency, the constant supervisory roles that teachers/guardians play in schools can douse the negative influences that delinquent peer associations can have on a young individual.

However, as they advance in age and schooling, and move on to institutions of higher learning, the teachers or guardians tend to treat individuals as adults capable of making their own decisions. In other words, the supervisory roles that teachers play in the life of students reduce drastically as they advance in age and schooling. This also represents the theories expressed by Jang (1999:675).

The interactional theory developed by Thornberry (1987) has been put to test but not without some loopholes. For instance, though the theory suggests that delinquent peer associations vary with age, it doesn’t specifically address the measure or category of offending. Also, a general inference tends to be made based on just one category of offending (e.g. drug offending).

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