The influence of peer pressure on criminal Behavior (part-4)

METHODS

Despite the large body of research documenting the role of peer influence in adolescent delinquency, research on the role of delinquent peers has been limited in three important ways. First, past research has used a less than precise definition of the friendship group in which normative influence is believed to occur. Most studies in the criminology literature examining the effect of peer influence on delinquency have simply asked adolescents to think about their friends in general and to report whether their friends have participated in a particular illegal behaviour or set of illegal behaviours. As a result of this strategy, it is unclear who was included in adolescents’ definition of “friends.” For instance, the number of friends considered is unknown. In addition, no information on prosocial individuals (i.e., friends who abstain from crime/delinquency) has been collected.

Second, problematic measures of peer influence have been used. For the most part, past research has relied on adolescents’ perceptions of friends’ behaviour. Therefore, the standard approach to measuring peer delinquency contains a same-source bias that substantially inflates similarity in behaviour between peers. In almost all criminological studies, information about friends comes from adolescents’ descriptions of the behaviour of their friends instead of from those friends’ reports of their own behaviour. Such measures inflate the similarity in behaviour between adolescents and their peers, because people tend to project their own attitudes and behaviour onto their friends, a phenomenon social psychologists refer to as assumed similarity or projection. Although such findings have led several scholars to caution against the use of adolescents’ reports about peers, there has been limited recognition of this problem in research on crime and deviance. Such findings show that there is some truth in Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) argument that adolescents’ reports of their peers’ delinquency “may merely be another measure of self-reported delinquency” (p. 157).

Third, prior research has neglected to consider the role of the structural properties of friendship relations. By overlooking the structure of friendship networks, past research has assumed that everyone in the friendship network is affected by friends’ behaviour similarly. This is an oversimplification of network processes because it overlooks the adolescent’s position within the network (e.g., central vs. peripheral), the cohesiveness of the network (i.e., the interconnections among network members), and the adolescent’s prestige (e.g., popularity) within the network. These structural characteristics shape the degree to which adolescents are influenced by group dynamics.

Fortunately, recent work on social networks and network analyses has begun to make its way into the work of researchers interested in understanding peer processes as they relate to adolescent crime and delinquency. Much of this recent work has been spurred by the availability of a new novel data set, The Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (hereafter, Add Health), which allows researchers to overcome the limitations just described (for use of the Add Health data, see, e.g.,, Haynie, 2002). The advantage of these data is that they can be used to incorporate a social network perspective to elaborate on the normative influence process believed to generate peer similarity among friends. Specifically, a network perspective is guided by the assumption that the behaviours exhibited by network members, as well as the structure of the network, have important consequences for understanding subsequent behaviour. In the context of delinquency, this suggests that exposure to pro- or anti-delinquent behaviours will depend upon the structure of the network, the adolescent’s position within the network, and the behaviours exhibited in the network.

In addition, and in contrast to past measurement strategies, a network perspective offers a more desirable measurement strategy whereby the friendship network is carefully mapped out, responses about behaviours come directly from the friends’ perspectives, and network homogeneity and structure are considered. The beginning point of network studies involves asking adolescents both to describe their own behaviour and to identify their friends. The second step involves locating and interviewing the friends, with friends describing their own behaviour and then identifying their friends, and so on. In a best-case scenario, all adolescents and friends in the population of adolescents provide this information. This allows for the links among friends to be established for the purposes of constructing analytical friendship networks with identifiable structural properties and allows researchers to measure friends’ behaviour based on the actual responses of friends themselves.

The paper concludes that since peer pressure and its influence exists in all adolescents and it is a strong denominator  among  the  determinants  of  juvenile  delinquency  and  adult  crime,  it  is  obvious  that  it  is  a cardinal problematic phenomenon for society. The youth of any society determine its futuristic   and  enduring structural  and  institutional  developmental  state.  Therefore  if  serious  focal  discourse,  research,  planning  and proper execution is not put in place to address the problem of the influence of negative peer pressure on teens and adolescents there is great danger to the continued existence of peaceful,  orderly and progressive societies. The paper suggests that solution to the problem can be approached through the grass root approach. That is by identifying  and  registering  household  units  towards  effective  and  timely  execution  of  good  and  adequate policies arising from continuous research and proper planning. In the current study, we examined whether friends’ involvement in crime has an influence on people’s own involvement. We contributed to the body of literature in four ways. First, we examined the influencing processes in terms of both offending and victimization. Second, we assessed whether the influence varies with the strength of ties by studying the impact of contact frequency, friendship intimacy, and geographical proximity. Third, we examined the influencing processes in a sample consisting mainly of adults. And, finally, we employed a longitudinal research model that enabled us to rule out friendship selection processes and all time-stable unmeasured heterogeneity as potential confounders. The purpose of this research paper was to elucidate the importance of peers and peer networks for understanding adolescent delinquency and crime. Instead, the purpose here was to demonstrate the need for a network reformulation of the peer– delinquency association that incorporates characteristics of the friendship network in which adolescents are enmeshed. As this research paper illustrates, not all adolescents are influenced to the same degree by their peer associations and, when the patterning of relationships between adolescents provides more opportunities for interactions among members (e.g., when the friendship network contains a higher proportion of delinquent youth or the network is very cohesive), peer delinquency plays a larger role in the adolescent’s own delinquency behaviour. This positioning in the peer network provides different opportunities for peer interaction, resulting in varying exposure to delinquent behavioural models, communication of delinquent norms, access to information on delinquent opportunities, and opportunities for rewards or deterrents to delinquency. Because research using network methods and data has found that the average adolescent is exposed to both delinquent and non delinquent friends and that adolescents’ own delinquency level is associated with the proportion of delinquent friends in the network, any intervention policies that bring delinquent youth together for targeted intervention may have unintended negative consequences. For instance, these policies are likely to exacerbate problem behaviour if social influence occurs and deviancy training takes place in these settings . Although network studies of adolescents are more costly to implement, the findings emerging from such research suggest that interventions are more likely to succeed (i.e., to reduce problem behaviours) if they are able to minimize exposure to delinquent peers. In addition, identifying adolescents most at risk of being influenced by peer dynamics and/or transmitting delinquent behaviour to others can be useful information for policies aimed at reducing delinquent behaviours, because they can help to identify where school resources may have the greatest impact. For instance, it may be important not only to target delinquent peer networks but also to focus on the delinquent peer networks in which density is high or in which adolescents are located in central positions. In sum, the approach of identifying and examining peer social networks provides a coherent and promising framework for investigating a variety of ways that peers shape and influence adolescent involvement in delinquency and crime. This conclusion is consistent with the current emphasis on the significance of social contexts (e.g., neighbourhood, school) and suggests that an important context with important implications for adolescents’ behaviour is the peer networks in which youth are embedded.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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