n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Parental attachment and deviance : seeking a more precise understanding of this relationship

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The purpose of this study was to advance current literature by examining the independent effects of attachment to parents on deviance, while simultaneously considering possible family environment characteristics that may condition that relationship or have a non-linear effect on deviance. Because parents represent the first and perhaps most salient agent of socialisation that children encounter, the bond to parents may be especially consequential for delinquency. To do so, data from the National Youth Survey (NYS) was analysed using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), specifically to test for these effects. The study found that the effects of attachment to parents on deviance are conditioned by two of the three family variables that were considered (perceptions of parental disapproval and negative labelling). Findings also indicated that although the effect of perceived parental disapproval had an initial negative effect on deviance, it does in fact have a non-linear effect. Future research should attempt to study additional family environment variables that may have similar effects. Additionally, future research should consider the actual behaviour of parents and how this affects the relationship between attachment and deviance. Finally, instead of using solely child-perceptions and self-report data, observational may be more reliable.

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