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Keywords:

  • Puberty;
  • biosocial;
  • delinquency

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health is used to examine the relationship between pubertal development and delinquency among boys (grades 7–9). We find strong positive relationships between pubertal development and violence, on one hand, and property crimes, drug use, and precocious sexual behavior on the other. However, we find no evidence that these effects are due to the effects of puberty on risk-taking, maladjustment, dominance behavior, or autonomous behavior. We do find evidence that pubertal development interacts with social factors—mature boys are more strongly influenced by delinquent friends. Pubertal development also has stronger effects on the delinquency of boys who are academically successful and thus are generally disinclined to engage in delinquency.