Stressful Life Events, Delinquency and Substance Abuse Among Young Women: Findings from the South Florida Youth Development Project
Judith Ryder and Frank Biafora, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Research suggests that stressful events may be a significant factor in some girls’ pathways to delinquency. Much of this work, however, is cross-sectional and based on offender populations, and does not examine racial/ethnic variation. This secondary analysis builds on the findings of a representative cohort study of drug use among an ethnically diverse sample of male and female students in South Florida (Vega & Gil, 1998; Turner & Gil, 2002). The current study examines the prevalence and demographic distribution of stressful life events among 318 US-and foreign-born Hispanic, White non-Hispanic, and African American females. The relationship between these stressful events and substance use and delinquency is explored. Questionnaires were administered in grades 6 and 7; subsequently, between 1998 and 2000, participants were interviewed at age 19 to 21 years. Preliminary findings and implications for early interventions are discussed.