Holly Ventura, Assistant Professor, University of Texas-San Antonio
Chris L. Gibson, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
NIJ Conference 2010
Holly Ventura Miller: We were basing our research on a long line of research over the last four decades that has shown that native-born adolescents actually have worse outcomes than foreign-born adolescents, which is a little bit counterintuitive. Most people have long assumed that immigration automatically leads to crime. The empirical evidence doesn't suggest that that's the case. So what we wanted to do was take a new data set that's never been looked at before in relation to Hispanics and try to assess whether or not those generational differences still are linked to negative outcomes.
Up to this point, most of the research on Hispanics and crime has been largely descriptive in nature. What we wanted to do was try to get into some of the causal mechanisms that may be underlining those generational links and negative outcomes.
So we decided to look at two of the most well-known predictors of crime and victimization in the literature, being low self-control and delinquent peers. And so that's what we did — we ran a number of multi-variant models to try to assess the relative effects of acculturation as measured by generational status along with some of those key constructs, such as delinquent peers, low self-control and parenting variables.
Chris L. Gibson: The data that were used for the project, or from the project on human development and Chicago neighborhoods, which is a longitudinal study of children, multiple cohorts, and many neighborhoods, about 80 neighborhood clusters in Chicago. We focused specifically on the Hispanics — the 9, 12 and 15 year-old cohorts, and the outcomes of interest to us were violence and violent victimization. So what we looked at is generational status' relationship to these outcomes, and what we found consistent with most research is that third generation immigrant Hispanics were more likely to be involved in violence compared to second and first. Also, with victimization we found that second generation immigrants were more likely to be victims than first generation.
Now, these findings were quite robust. With respect to delinquent peers and self-control, we found that neither could mediate the relationship between generational status and violence perpetration. However, with violent victimization, we found that delinquent peers was able to mediate the relationship, nullifying the relationship between generational status and victimization. But nonetheless we found that two important criminological constructs — peer delinquency and low self-control — increased the probability of these outcomes — consistent with the literature that has been done thus far.
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Holly Ventura, Assistant Professor, University of Texas-San Antonio; and Chris L. Gibson, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
Date created: June 29, 2010