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The goal of this chapter is to examine the links between three constructs of potential predictive and clinical significance for the development of adolescent delinquent behavior: (1) early childhood aggressive behavior and poor peer relations, (2) the development of peer social networks in early adolescence, and (3) concurrent antisocial behavior and poor peer relations in early adolescence. Generally, these constructs have been investigated separately; however, for at least some children, they may be part of the same developmental process. Therefore, following a short review of the literature pertaining to each of these areas, we will present our own data in answer to the following questions suggested by this literature:
What is the general structure of peer networks in early adolescence? Are there developmental differences in the way these peer networks form?
Are there peer cliques that can be identified as consisting of individuals who are more likely to engage in deviant behavior? If so, what are the behavioral and social relational correlates that distinguish these cliques from more normative peer cliques?
What are the implications of early childhood antisocial behavior and poor peer relations for the development of adolescent delinquency in the context of the adolescent peer network environment? That is, does a greater likelihood of delinquency arise out of the formation of these deviant peer cliques, or is the deviant peer clique an epiphenomenon of both earlier childhood antisocial behavior and poor peer relations, which themselves are the precipitating factors in the development of adolescent delinquency?
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