Examining the Relationship Between Exposure to Violence and Delinquent Behaviors Across Different Immigrant Generations




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Contrary to popular rhetoric, several immigration studies have shown that the relationship between immigration and crime is null or negative. Within this strand of research, first generation immigrants exhibit significantly lower crime rates than their comparisons. However, recent studies have also found that crime rates began to rise in second- and second-plus generation immigrants. The mechanism contributing to changes in crime rates across generations remains largely unknown. This study posits that exposure to violence (ETV) is one potential risk factor related to the increase in crime and delinquency among immigrant youth, particularly in second-generation immigrant youth. The current study used data from the Pathways to Desistance Study to examine this relationship. Two types of ETV are examined: direct ETV and witness ETV. At baseline, first-generation youth had lower direct and indirect ETV than their peers, whereas second-generation youth reported the highest direct ETV. The associations between ETVs and deviant outcomes are positive, and neighborhood conditions mediate this relationship. Moreover, ethnic identity could be a protective factor for immigrant youth. Collectively, the results support that ETVs are the risk factors contributing to delinquency among immigrant youth. Future research directions and policy implications are addressed.



Emigration and immigration, Violence, Criminal behavior