Examining effects of family factors on youth delinquency: Mediation of protective factors

Young people and wellbeing
Thursday 26 July, 1400 – 1420


Dr Xuexin Xu
Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore

Kala Ruby
Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore

Family factors matter in youth delinquency. Previous research adopted a person-centred approach and examined the influences of family characteristics on youth offending and re-offending. However, few studies have examined how youths from different types of families vary in protective factors, which affects their delinquent behaviour.

To fill in this gap, this study aims to identify family types of youth offenders and reveals how the family types affect youth offenders’ delinquent behaviour through mediation of protective factors. Using a sample of 922 youth offenders in Singapore, a latent class analysis was conducted based on nine family factors. Mediation analyses were subsequently executed to examine the mediating effects of 13 protective factors on the relation between family types and youth offenders’ probation order completion.

Findings suggested three family types, which were consistent with prior research: families with criminal and drug abuse history; non-intact or poorly-managed families; and intact functioning families with low risk. Families with criminal and drug abuse histories were associated with lower levels of pedagogical climate, which led to a lower likelihood of successful completion of probation orders. Youths from non-intact or poorly-managed families had lower levels of perseverance, positive attitudes towards agreements and conditions, bonding to school/work, warm relationship with parents/guardians and pedagogical climate, which led to lower likelihood of successful probation completion.

The findings could advance our understanding about the influences of family factors on youth delinquency and facilitate a strengths-based approach in prevention and intervention for disadvantaged families.