Factors Associated with Youth Delinquency and Victimization in Toronto, 2006

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By Klarka Zeman (Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics) and Angela Bressan (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics), Statistics Canada

The International Youth Survey (IYS) was conducted for the first time in Canada in 2006. This is the Canadian version of the International Self-Reported Delinquency Study conducted in over 30 countries in that same year (ISRD2 Working Group, 2005). The target population for this survey was Toronto students in grades 7, 8 and 9. Respondents provided information about their involvement in delinquency, as well as a wide range of information about individual, family, peer and school characteristics.

The first report to use these data (Savoie, 2007) described the prevalence of youth delinquency and associated risk factors, as well as the prevalence of youth victimization. The report identified three groups of youth who were more likely to report delinquency in the 12 months preceding the survey: boys, youth from single-parent or step-parent families and older youth. In addition, the results indicated that immigrant youth were less likely to report delinquency than their native-born counterparts.

In this study, the investigation is broadened to include other factors that have been linked to delinquency in previous self-report research including low levels of school commitment (Resnick et al., 1997), experiences of victimization (Fitzgerald, 2003), and negative family and peer relationships (Sokol-Katz, Dunham and Zimmerman, 1997). The goals of this study are to examine how these additional factors are associated with self-reported delinquency in the sample of Toronto youth, and whether or not the observed relationships between delinquency and age, sex, family composition and immigrant status change after accounting for these additional risk factors. We investigate factors associated with property-related and violent delinquency separately as previous research has demonstrated that these two types of behaviour are associated with different risk factors (Sprott, Jenkins and Doob, 2000).

We present a series of logistic regression models to examine the associations of different types of risk factors to property (Table 1) and violent delinquency (Table 2). In these tables, the demographic, or baseline, model (Model 1) shows the effects of age, sex, immigrant status, and family composition on the chances of youth reporting property or violent delinquency in the previous year. In subsequent models, we add school-related variables (Model 2), victimization variables (Model 3), and peer and family variables (Model 4) to assess their separate contributions to self-reported youth delinquency, over and above the demographic characteristics. Finally, we add all of the factors simultaneously in a last model (Model 5) to assess their relative importance in explaining the likelihood of youth reporting delinquency.

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