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Title: The "Cause" of Low Self-Control
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Nofziger, Stacey
The "Cause" of Low Self-Control
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 45,2 (May 2008): 191-223.
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79, NLSY79, NLSY79 Young Adult
Publisher: Sage Publications
Keyword(s): Alcohol Use; Behavior Problems Index (BPI); Birth Order; Crime; Discipline; Home Observation for Measurement of Environment (HOME); Injuries; Mothers, Behavior; Parent Supervision/Monitoring; Parent-Child Relationship/Closeness; Parenting Skills/Styles; Punishment, Corporal; Risk-Taking; Scale Construction; Self-Regulation/Self-Control; Smoking (see Cigarette Use); Substance Use

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Self-control theory is one of the most tested theories within the field of criminology. However, one of the basic assumptions of the theory has remained largely ignored. Gottfredson and Hirschi stated that the focus of their general theory of crime is the "connection between the self-control of the parent and the subsequent self-control of the child" (1990:100). However, no study to date has specifically tested this relationship. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this study finds that mothers with low self-control do indeed produce children with lower self-control. To begin to understand the mechanism responsible for this relationship, several parenting practices used by the mothers are examined. The analysis shows that the self-control of the mother influences her choice of punishments, as well as having moderate impacts on how she supervises her children. In turn, higher supervision and several choices of punishments affect the development of self-control in the child. This study therefore provides support for a vital, yet previously unexamined, piece of the general theory of crime. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] One of the most extensively debated and empirically tested theories in criminology is Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime (1990). However, one basic assertion of the theory has not been tested. Gottfredson and Hirschi specifically state that "the major 'cause' of low self-control thus appears to be ineffective child-rearing" (1990: 97). If parents fail to instill self-control within their children, delinquency is likely to result. Producing self-control in children requires a great deal of consistent effort. It is expected that parents who lack self-control will not be particularly adept at instilling self-control in their children (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990: 101). Surprisingly, the crucial role of parental self-control in the development of juvenile self-control, and ultimately juvenile delinquency, has not been examined.

(Author summary: This project will use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth – Child and Young Adult data to begin to fill this void. These data include information from the females who were part of the original NLSY79 cohort as well as from their children. A measure of the mothers' self-control is developed using items such as their aspirations, their involvement in criminal activities, early and unsafe sexual activity, and alcohol and substance use. The children's self-control is measured by items such as being in an accident or having an injury in the last year, the children's scores from interviewer assessments on temperament, social development, and behavior problems scales, self-reported behavior problems at school, educational expectations, and a series of items assessing risk taking behaviors and attitudes.)

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Bibliography Citation
Nofziger, Stacey. "The "Cause" of Low Self-Control." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 45,2 (May 2008): 191-223.