Data gathered over the course of a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of over 900 New
Zealand children were used to examine factors associated with the formation of affiliations
with delinquent or substance using peers in adolescence (15 years). The findings of this study
(1) Adolescent peer affiliations were associated with a wide range of prospectively
measured social, family, parental, and individual factors. This analysis indicated that
those children most at risk of forming deviant peer affiliations were those from socially
disadvantaged backgrounds, dysfunctional families, who showed early onset conduct
problems and other difficulties.
(2) Regression analysis suggested that specific factors that were associated with increased
risks of later deviant peer affiliations included family socioeconomic status, parental
conflict, mother/child interaction, childhood sexual abuse, parental alcoholism, parental
criminal offending, parental illicit drug use, parental smoking, early conduct problems, early
anxiety/withdrawal, and early smoking experimentation.
It is concluded that peer affiliations in adolescence are shaped by a complex social, family,
and individual process that includes social stratification, family functioning, and individual