Factors that referred to behavior of the parent in which the child was not directly involved, such as criminality by parents, marital problems, and parental depression were excluded.
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On the basis of the selection criteria, studies were collected according to the following procedure. Search terms such as delinquency, crime, criminals, offenders, anti-social were cross-referenced with parenting, child-rearing, and parent-influence. Next, manual searches were applied in which reference lists of reviews and other articles were checked in order to find relevant studies not found in the electronic databases.
Finally, experts in the field were asked whether they knew of any other relevant published or unpublished studies. Publication bias is the tendency of journals to accept papers that report strong significant associations over publications with nonsignificant or small effects e. Rosenthal identified this problem as the file drawer problem.
The best solution to this difficulty is to try to obtain all published and unpublished material as best as possible. Additionally, a method to test whether the results of the analysis of the combined effect sizes are reliable is to calculate a fail-safe number Rosenthal , the number of unpublished studies that have not been found with a non-significant result that will decrease the combined effect size to non-significant. The present meta-analysis includes unpublished studies and also provides fail-safe numbers.
However, because the quality of unpublished studies is questioned because they have not gone through peer review, we noted and analyzed the effects of publication status i.
Impact factor refers to the average number of citations to the articles in a journal. We assigned an impact factor of zero if studies were presented in paper presentations, dissertations, books, and book chapters. In total different parenting variables were identified across the studies.
The parenting variables were classified into nine constructs or categories which were made on the basis of the literature on parenting. Parenting behaviors behaviors of parents directed to the child were assigned to the parenting dimensions: 1 support , 2 authoritative control , 3 authoritarian control , 4 behavioral control —including active monitoring 3 , 5 psychological control , 6 general control— concepts that are too broad for classification in a specific kind of control, 7 general parenting —aspects that covered both support and control, 8 indirect parenting behavior —parental knowledge and child disclosure see footnote 3 , and 9 other parenting —all remaining parenting that did not fit the other categories e.
Given that the variables in the last category do not conceptually form a unity, we only described the results of these studies and computed mean effect sizes for each parenting behavior in this category if there are at least three studies. We did not subject this category to moderator analyses. The classification system including a list of the parenting categories and variables is presented in the Appendix. The first author coded the parenting variables on the basis of their names and descriptions.
Reliability of the coding scheme was checked by having randomly selected parenting variables coded by two educational sciences students. After training, the students independently classified the parenting variables into the categories. Interrater agreement was quite high with the percentage of agreement between the first author and the students being The following study characteristics were analyzed as moderators. In order to analyze sex-differences we coded sex of the target child males, females, or both and the active agent or actor e.
With regard to short-term versus long-term associations we coded: design cross-sectional, longitudinal, or retrospective , time interval in months between the two measurements if the study design was cross-sectional this variable was set at zero , age of the subjects at the time of the delinquency measurement, and age of the subjects at the time of measurement of the parenting characteristic.
With regard to delinquency type and source we coded: delinquency type general delinquency, overt delinquency, or covert delinquency , percentage of problem behavior within the delinquency construct i. Furthermore, we coded the informant of the parenting characteristic e. For the General study characteristics k equals the number of articles.
For the sample characteristics, k equals the number of samples; for the parenting characteristics, k equals the number of analyses. For each study an effect size was calculated. If studies only reported that a relationship was significant or not, we applied conservative estimation procedures, meaning that we assigned a p value of 0.
For each parenting category we conducted a meta-analysis. We examined the extent of the variation in effect sizes Hedges and Olkin For the calculation of combined effect sizes and the moderator-analyses, we used the SPSS macros of Lipsey and Wilson and random effects models given that most effect sizes were heterogeneous Lipsey and Wilson ; Rosenthal This method is rather conservative and has the advantage of allowing the results to generalize to studies that are not in the meta-analysis. Furthermore, we calculated fail-safe numbers and analyzed whether outlying effect sizes were in our data base of studies on the basis of standardized z -values larger than 3.
No outliers were identified. Independence of study results is desirable when conducting a meta-analysis in order to preclude that a particular study is weighted more strongly than the others Lipsey and Wilson In the current meta-analysis, dependence of study results was prevented by combining the results of dependent studies or by using only one study result. We used three different methods for eliminating dependence. First, in some manuscripts results regarding the same sample were reported and therefore the results across studies were combined into one effect size and used that in all sub-analyses.
For example, results on the relationship between monitoring and delinquency in the Cambridge—Somerville Youth Study were published in three journal articles McCord a , b , Second, if a study characteristic of a dependent study was less common, we used only this study result.
For example, both self-reported delinquency and official delinquency were analyzed regarding the same sample Farrington , , ; Farrington and Hawkins ; Farrington and Loeber ; West and Farrington , We chose the analyses on official delinquency, because studies on official delinquency are less commonly available. If a study reported results for both males and females, we used the results on females e. In some other studies both the mother and father were informants on their parenting behavior. Third, some manuscripts reported on more than one sample e.
In most cases we averaged the results following the procedure of Mullen For the analysis on the level of the discrete parenting behaviors we used all analyses within one study. However, in analyses at the level of parenting dimensions we selected one analysis per study. As shown in the table, the majority of the data came from studies conducted in the United States.
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All studies that we included in the meta-analysis were published between and The sample sizes were quite varied, ranging from 34 to 18,, with most between and The designs were most frequently cross-sectional 88 studies. Only four studies used a retrospective design, and 35 studies were longitudinal. The data included samples of only females, only males or both. Parenting Dimensions Mean effect sizes for associations between parenting dimensions support and various forms of control and delinquency were all significant and ranged in strength from.
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Among the parenting dimensions the highest mean effect sizes were found for psychological control, referring to parents who keep their child dependent, try to change the feelings of their child, use guilt to control the child or ignore the child as a form of punishment. The remaining parenting dimensions, support, and authoritative, authoritarian and behavioral control, have small to moderate significant associations with delinquency. Given that scholars consider the support dimension as unidimensional e.
However, we hypothesized that low levels of positive aspects of support might result in different mean effect sizes than high levels of negative aspects of support. For example, high levels of hostility and neglect may be more harmful for youngsters than low levels of understanding and support.
In order to test this hypothesis we compared the effect sizes of negative versus positive aspects of support. Parenting behaviors such as trust, acceptance, supportive parenting, open communication, love, caring and warmth were considered as positive aspects of support 47 studies and indifference, avoidance, neglect, hostility and rejection were regarded as negative aspects of support seven studies.
These parenting variables were considered as a separate category 18 studies. Fail-safe numbers were calculated for each parenting category in order to estimate the number of unpublished non-significant studies that would have to have been found in order to decrease the combined effect size to non-significant. Possible file drawer problems were therefore not indicated and the significance levels of the effect sizes can be considered robust. ES r refers to the mean effect size and can be interpreted as a correlation r.
Class between parentheses refers to a set of more than one aspect of this category see Appendix. Very few studies analyzed specific parenting styles Avenevoli et al. Thus, given the small number of previous studies on parenting styles and delinquency, definite conclusions on whether parenting styles have stronger links to delinquency than parenting dimensions or which parenting style has the strongest link to delinquency cannot be drawn.
Discrete Parenting Behaviors Because the parenting dimensions categories are rather broad and knowledge on potential links between discrete parenting behaviors may be useful for investigating which specific child-rearing characteristics could be effective ingredients of interventions, we further analyzed smaller sets of analyses see the Appendix , second column. Furthermore, we tested whether mean effect sizes concerning discrete parenting behaviors were significantly different within a parenting dimension.
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Within the remaining parenting dimensions i. A mean effect size was only computed for co-parenting as at least three studies focused on the link between this aspect of parenting and delinquency. In sum, the strongest mean effect sizes were found for negative aspects of support such as neglect, hostility and rejection or combinations of these parenting behaviors ES r ranges from 0. Furthermore, moderate effect sizes were found for psychological control and overprotection ES r ranges from 0. We analyzed both categorical moderators such as gender of the subjects and design of the study and continuous moderators such as year of publication and number of measurements.
Moderator analyses using categorical moderators were only conducted if both groups of the moderator included at least three studies. Trends are only presented in the text. Results are reported separately for each moderator or group of moderators.
Sex-Differences We did not find any differences between males and females with respect to the link between parenting and delinquency. In order to analyze whether parents had more influence on a child with the same sex, we created a new moderator with the following categories: 1 fathers—sons and mothers—daughters, 2 fathers—daughters and mothers—sons. Because some groups did not meet our criterion of three studies, this moderator analysis could only be conducted with regard to three parenting dimensions.
Within the category support this moderator was significant. Short-Term vs. Long-Term Associations The moderators time interval between the measurements and design were nonsignificant, indicating that the parenting—delinquency link was relatively similar in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies. The relationship between general parenting and delinquency was found to be stronger in younger adolescents and school age children than for older adolescents. Because most studies focused on general delinquency and to a much lesser extent on overt or covert delinquency we were able to conduct moderator analyses for only two parenting dimensions support and indirect parenting.
A significant difference was found between studies that measured overt delinquency and studies that analyzed covert delinquency in relation to indirect parenting behavior knowledge and child disclosure. We expected studies that used questionnaires with items on non-illegal problem behavior to result in weaker effect sizes than measures reporting illegal offences only.
The s ource of delinquency was not associated with effect size, indicating that no significant differences were found between studies using self-reported delinquency and studies relying on official delinquency. This moderator was significant with respect to authoritarian control. Instead, we examined study characteristics that address the issue of study quality as moderators such as sample size and reliability of parenting questionnaires.
The following moderators that might refer to the study quality were analyzed: publication status, impact factor, sample size, number of items in the delinquency measure, number of items in the parenting measure, and reliability of the parenting measure. Because information about the reliability of the delinquency measure was unavailable most of the time, this study characteristic was not examined. Studies with smaller sample sizes showed a larger effect size than studies with larger numbers of subjects.
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Publication status and number of parenting items did not moderate the effect size. Given that the study quality of retrospective studies is often questioned we conducted several analyses in order to investigate the potential influence of these studies. As mentioned above, study design was not associated with effect size. In addition, the recalculation of the mean effect sizes of studies excluding those with a retrospective design, did not lead to different conclusions, probably because there were so few retrospective studies.
In the present meta-analysis we tested the connection between parenting and delinquency. We focused on parenting from different perspectives, analyzing parenting dimensions, styles and behaviors in relation to delinquency. The first goal was to investigate what the magnitudes of these associations are and which of these have the strongest relationships with delinquent behavior. The second purpose was to analyze potential moderators of the parenting—delinquency link and their relative importance.