Changes in Illegal Behavior During Emerging Adulthood
Keywords: Desistance, emerging adults, illegal behavior, college students, substance use
AbstractEmerging adulthood marks a critical developmental juncture during which some individuals disengage from the illegal behavior of their adolescence while others continue to use substances and commit crimes. While risk factors for delinquency during adolescence are well studied, factors that influence persisting or desisting from illegal activities during emerging adulthood have not been fully explored. This mixed methods study utilizes a sample of college students aged 18-25 (N=74) and examines factors differentiating those who abstained from illegal behaviors, desisted from illegal behaviors, and persisted in illegal behaviors. Multinomial logistic regression models indicated peers offending and hours spent studying predicted desisting and peers offending predicted persisting (compared to the abstaining group). Three qualitative themes: family and peer bonds, morals and values, and fear of consequences further explained factors influencing emerging adults’ persisting and desisting choices. Implications for social work practice are explored.
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