Journal of Youth and Adolescence
December 28, 2001
Style ﬁle version July 26, 1999
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 31, No. 1, February 2002, pp. 45–56 ( C 2002)
An 18-Year Model of Family and Peer Effects
on Adolescent Drug Use and Delinquency
Helen E. Garnier1 and Judith A. Stein2
Received November 27, 2000; accepted June 26, 2001
The interrelationship of family and peer experiences in predicting adolescent problem behaviors was examined in an 18-year longitudinal sample of adolescents (N = 198) from conventional and nonconventional families. Positive associations among early childhood predictors and adolescent problem behaviors were consistent with problem behavior theory. The most powerful predictors of teen drug use and delinquent behaviors were similar behaviors by peers. Peer behaviors, however, were in turn predicted by earlier family-related variables and the quality of peer relationships in childhood. This study provides supporting evidence that strong peer effects in adolescence reﬂect even earlier processes in childhood and highlight the importance of linkages from early childhood experiences in family and peer contexts to the development of problem behaviors in adolescence. Implications for prevention and intervention programs are discussed.
KEY WORDS: adolescent problem behaviors; longitudinal structural equation model; peer effects; family effects.
tiple antecedents in childhood and adolescence (Goff and
Goddard, 1999; Jessor et al., 1995). Although youth violence declined slightly in the late 1990s, adolescents are frequently exposed to delinquency, violent crimes, drugrelated crimes, and crimes against persons and property (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999) and drug use (Johnston
et al., 2000; National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA),
1995). For example, 55% of adolescents have used an illicit drug, 65% have tried cigarettes, and 80% have tried alcohol by the time they leave high school.
Because teens spend more time with peers and less
with families during their transition into adulthood, peers
have the most important inﬂuence on their day-to-day behaviors (Steinberg et al., 1992). Both parents and peers, however, have been found to contribute to adolescent development but in different ways (Dryfoos, 1990; Laible et al., 2000; Stein et al., 1987). Cairns and Cairns (1995)
propose that predominant peer effects actually reﬂect earlier processes in childhood, and stress the importance of processes linking different social organizations across
Unfortunately, the narrow time frame of many studies comparing parent and peer antecedents of teen behaviors has hampered investigation of the process by which longer-term family effects and proximal peer effects
Current research on high-risk adolescent behaviors
more often focuses on groups of problem behaviors rather
than on single risk factors in an attempt to discover mulThe Family Lifestyles Project has been supported by Carnegie Corporation Grant # B3970, by USPHS Grant # MH24947 to the late Dr Bernice Eiduson, Principal Investigator, and by Carnegie Corporation Grant # B4189 and W. T. Grant Foundation Grant # 92-1488 to Dr Thomas Weisner, Principal Investigator. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has supported Dr Helen Garnier, Grant # DA05449-02, and Dr Judith Stein, Grant # DA10170-28. The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, also has provided important support to the study. Most of all, we thank the more than 200 families participating in the Family Lifestyles study. 1 Research Statistician, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles. Received PhD in Education, University of California, Los Angeles. Interests are adolescent development and related problem behaviors. To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral...
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