Relationship between Parental Attachments and Delinquent and Risk-Taking Behaviors



The current study examined the association of attachment analyzed along several dimensions (i.e. communication, trust and alienation) and severity of delinquent and risk-taking behaviors in a non-referred sample of boys (n=226) and girls (n=480), aged 13-19. Specifically, it examined (a) the role of gender as a moderator in the effect of separate parental attachments on severity of delinquent and risk-taking behaviors, and (b) the effect of the number of strong parent- -adolescent attachments on severity of delinquent and risk- -taking behaviors. Attachment and delinquent and risk-taking behaviors were assessed through self-report ratings. Generally, it was found that gender moderated the relationship between separate parental attachments and delinquent, but not risk-taking behaviors. Further investigation demonstrated that strong attachment to both mother and father was related to a reduced risk for delinquency for boys, whereas the relationship was less apparent for girls. The findings also show that strong attachment to one parent is as effective in inhibiting delinquency as strong attachments to both parents. It was also found that strong attachment to the custodial parent in a single-parent home is as effective in controlling delinquency as strong attachments to both parents in a two-parent family.


attachment; delinquent behavior; risk-taking behavior; social control theory

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096