Abstract

Early delinquency has received considerably less scholarly attention than adolescent delinquency. Early delinquency is of great concern to school social workers, as it may lead to problematic behaviors in adolescence and future involvement with the juvenile justice system. Using an ecological framework, authors used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to identify individual, family, and school factors related to early delinquency among a diverse, national sample of children. The authors estimated two linear regression models that predicted early delinquency: one with individual and family controls and a second with the addition of parenting stress and school belonging. It was found that parenting stress was positively associated with early delinquency and school belonging was negatively associated with early delinquency above and beyond individual and family controls. The article concludes with a discussion of the findings in terms of practical implications for school social workers related to early prevention and intervention efforts. This discussion centers on intervention efforts that may reduce parenting stress and enhance school belonging among young children at risk of engaging in delinquent behaviors.

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