Delinquent youth often experience depression, but depression’s impact on their future deviance is unclear. Using survey and social network data on a panel of 9th graders (N = 8701; Mage at baseline = 15.6; 48% male; 85% white; 18% eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch) followed throughout high school, this study tested whether depressive symptoms predicted later deviance or deviant peer affiliations among already delinquent youth. A latent class analysis revealed that 4% of respondents showed above-average levels of delinquency but not depressive symptoms, and 3% were above average on both. Compared to the delinquent-only group, the delinquent-depressed group went on to have less deviant friends, and to engage in less deviance themselves. However, peer deviance was not a reliable explanation for the reductions in respondents’ own future deviance. Depressive symptoms thus may play a protective role against continued delinquency and substance use among youth who are already delinquent, but it is not because they reduce deviant peer affiliations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)