Peer relationships are one of the most significant risk factors for an adolescent to engage in violent and/or delinquent behaviour. Youths exposed to groups of people, such as peers, whose norms, values and practices are more permissive of criminal behaviour are more likely to participate in delinquent and violent activities themselves. Specific aspects of peer relationships related to violence and delinquency include attachment to peers, perceived delinquency of peers, perceived peer attitudes toward delinquency, peer pressure and time spent with delinquent peers. A U.S. study of 128 female juvenile (13-18) offenders looked into the effects of peer relationships on violence among four different racial groups (White, African American, Hispanic and mixed race). The results showed that high levels of peer association and extrinsic rewards from peer relationships best predicted violence among all groups. Among Hispanics positive peer attitudes towards delinquency significantly contributed to violence. Among Whites greater time spent with peers was associated with higher levels of violence. For African Americans tangible rewards from peer relationships significantly contributed to violence. There were no significant differences between the mixed-race girls and the other groups.
Silverman, Jenna R. and Caldwell, Roslyn M. - Peer relationships and violence among female juvenile offenders: an exploration of differences among four racial/ethnic populations Criminal Justice and Behavior March 2008, 35(3), 333-343