A Causal Analysis Of Developmental Assets, Behaviors And Delinquency Among Hispanic Youth In Texas
De Carvalho, Jackson Nascimento
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The purpose of this study was to identify the main predicting developmental assets for the prevention of juvenile delinquency among Hispanic youth in Texas by adopting advanced research methods. According to Benson (1995), and Lerner and Benson (2003), developmental assets are building blocks of development that help young people grow-up to be healthy, caring, and responsible. Grounded in extensive research (Benson, Galbraith, & Espeland, 1994; Benson, Galbraith, Espeland, 1998; Benson, 2001), the framework of developmental assets is a valuable tool to identify predictors for the prevention of juvenile delinquency among Hispanic youth, and serves as benchmark data to gauge community-based policy and program initiatives aimed at enhancing thriving behavior. Thus, the present study is a secondary data analysis employing a sample of 200 male and female Hispanics 14-16 years of age selected from a public school in Dallas, Texas. Using structural equation models, the present study revealed significant direct and/or indirect effects of developmental assets on delinquency. Results confirmed that lower levels of developmental assets increase the propensity of young people to engage in high-risk behaviors. On the other hand, a positive correlation was observed between higher developmental assets and thriving behaviors and a negative correlation between thriving behaviors and juvenile delinquency. Overall, findings of the present study showed that external assets predicted internal assets, which in turn predicted high risk behaviors, thriving behaviors and delinquency. Identification of the main predictors of delinquency and protective factors can greatly increase the ability to prevent and treat delinquent behaviors. This conclusion suggests that the model used is robust and suitable for an explanation of adolescent's delinquent behaviors, although, a cross validation study using the same model is necessary.