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Forbidden Friends as Forbidden Fruit: Parental Supervision of Friendships, Contact With Deviant Peers, and Adolescent Delinquency


  • Data of the RADAR study were used. RADAR has been financially supported by main grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (GB-MAGW 480-03-005), and Stichting Achmea Slachtoffer en Samenleving (SASS), and various other grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the VU University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Loes Keijsers, Utrecht University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Research Centre Adolescent Development, P.O. Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic mail may be sent to


Spending leisure time with deviant peers may have strong influences on adolescents’ delinquency. The current 3-wave multi-informant study examined how parental control and parental prohibition of friendships relate to these undesirable peer influences. To this end, annual questionnaires were administered to 497 Dutch youths (283 boys, mean age = 13 years at baseline), their best friends, and both parents. Cross-lagged panel analyses revealed strong longitudinal links from contacts with deviant peers to adolescent delinquency, but not vice versa. Parent-reported prohibition of friendships positively predicted contacts with deviant peers and indirectly predicted higher adolescent delinquency. Similar indirect effects were not found for parental control. The results suggest that forbidden friends may become “forbidden fruit,” leading to unintended increases in adolescents’ own delinquency.