Adolescent maltreatment, negative emotion, and delinquency: An assessment of general strain theory and family-based strain

Dusten R. Hollist, Lorine A. Hughes, Lonnie M. Schaible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


This study used data from a national sample of youth (N = 1,423) to test hypotheses derived from Robert Agnew's (1992, 2001) general strain theory concerning the relationship between adolescent maltreatment and delinquent behavior. Specifically, it focused on the extent to which the effect of maltreatment on general delinquency, serious delinquency, and substance use was mediated by negative emotions in the form of anger, anxiety, and depression. Results lend partial support to the theory. Confirming the importance of parent-child problems as a source of strain leading to delinquency, findings from ordinary least squares regression models revealed a significant association between maltreatment and all three forms of delinquent behavior. Although findings also showed that negative emotions are key intervening mechanisms influencing the magnitude of the direct effect of strain, maltreatment continued to exert significant effects even after controlling for negative emotions and both individual and family characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

Cite this