• Juvenile justice;
  • labeling;
  • peer contagion;
  • juvenile delinquency;
  • adult crime

Background:  The present study uses data from a community sample of 779 low-SES boys to investigate whether intervention by the juvenile justice system is determined, at least in part, by particular individual, familial and social conditions, and whether intervention by the juvenile courts during adolescence increases involvement in adult crime.

Method:  The study considers self-reported crime in childhood and adolescence, and introduces individual, familial and social variables into its analysis.

Results:  The results show that youths who are poor, impulsive, poorly supervised by their parents, and exposed to deviant friends are more likely, for the same degree of antisocial behavior, to undergo intervention by the Juvenile Court, and that this intervention greatly increases the likelihood of involvement with the penal system in adulthood. The results also show that the various measures recommended by the Juvenile Court exert a differential criminogenic effect; those that involve placement have the most negative impact.