A Multilevel Exploration of Neighborhood Disorder, Family Management and Antisocial Behavior

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Tremendous research has been dedicated to unpacking the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and youth development. Despite these efforts conclusions have been generally mixed and it is the lack of consensus regarding the importance of community that has in part fueled this dissertation. Much of the research dedicated to examining community and neighborhood effects on parenting and child behavior have been focused on community structural characteristics. Even though there is much evidence to suggest that disorder can affect both individuals and communities alike there is a paucity of literature on how neighborhood disorder may simultaneously influence family practices and child problem behavior.

Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) and borrowing from the conceptual framework developed by Furstenberg, Cook, Eccles, Elder and Sameroff (1999), the current investigation explores the relationship between disorder, family management and youth antisocial behavior by posing four research questions. First, what are the effects of neighborhood disorder on family management practices? Second, how do family management strategies influence youth involvement in antisocial behavior? Third, how does neighborhood disorder affect youth antisocial behavior? Fourth, what is the multilevel relationship between disorder, family management and antisocial behavior?

A series of models analyzed using Hierarchical Linear Model indicate that although disorder significantly influences several parenting strategies, in the end, family management practices tend to have a greater impact on youth involvement in antisocial behavior. Parents living in disordered neighborhood are more likely to limit their child's access to the surrounding neighborhood which in turn is shown to reduce antisocial behavior. These findings suggest that protective family management practices can be effective in curbing youth deviant behavior. Moreover, the analyses also revealed a significant relationship between proximal mechanisms of antisocial behavior (exposure to violence and peer deviance), family management and antisocial behavior. In essence, parental efforts in reducing exposure to violence and peer deviance have a protective effect in reducing antisocial behavior, especially in highly disordered neighborhoods. In keeping with these findings, several avenues for future research are discussed, as are theoretical and policy implications.