Family structure as a social context for family conflict: Unjust strain and serious delinquency

Ryan E. Spohn, Don L. Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Two major themes in the delinquency literature are the roles of family structure and childhood victimization. Combining these two lines of research, the current project examines the unique contribution of family structure and victimization on the serious delinquency of a nationally representative sample of adolescents. In addition, we examine whether the form of families serves to condition the relationship between victimization and delinquency. Past research indicates that abuse is more likely to occur in two-parent families of a "mixed" form, specifically in the presence of a live-in boyfriend or stepfather. However, little is known regarding the impact of victimization on delinquency across different types of family structure. Guided by a theoretical framework acknowledging that notions of justice influence the experience of victimization, our analyses indicate that, although victimization is more likely to occur in nonintact two-parent families, victimization is more likely to result in serious delinquency in intact families and single-parent families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-356
Number of pages25
JournalCriminal Justice Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • broken homes
  • child maltreatment
  • delinquency
  • sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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