Problematic youth group involvement as situated choice
In this study, we seek to explain how (through what mechanisms) young adolescents have an increased likelihood of becoming involved in a troublesome youth group. We combine social, developmental, personal, and situational risk factors under the umbrella of an integrated theoretical framework that stresses the importance of the moral sense as an important mediator in the relationship between adverse developmental conditions, juvenile delinquency, and troublesome youth group involvement. The moral sense is a multi-dimensional construct defined as consisting of moral norms, anticipated moral emotions and self-control ability. Using structural equation modeling for count and dichotomous outcomes we test the key propositions of our integrated framework. Our research is based on the International Self-Reported Delinquency Data (Belgian sample). The implications of these findings for future studies of self-control, juvenile delinquency, and troublesome youth group involvement are discussed.
Troublesome youth groups (TYGs) or ''gangs'' have been a research topic in the past, especially in the United States, and an increasing number of studies are currently being conducted in European countries. However, Belgium has been rather absent from the study of TYGs. This study aims to fill that gap in the literature. In the present contribution, the authors are interested in the prevalence of Belgian adolescents' involvement in TYGs and the role of societal vulnerability in this involvement. The authors are interested in the strength of the relationship between societal vulnerability and TYG and test the hypotheses that violent values and low self-control mediate the relationship between societal vulnerability and TYG. The analyses are conducted on the Belgian sample of the second edition of the International Self-Reported Delinquency study (ISRD-2). Both violent values and self-control mediate the effect of societal vulnerability and have strong independent effects on TYG. The implications of these findings are discussed.