Developing Self-Regulation, Delinquency Trajectories, and Juvenile Justice Outcomes in Young Women, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1999-2016 (ICPSR 36689)

Version Date: Sep 24, 2019 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Alison Hipwell, University of Pittsburgh. Medical Center; Stephanie Stepp, University of Pittsburgh. Medical Center

Version V1

Slide tabs to view more

There is much variability in the adult outcomes of youth who have been involved in the Juvenile Justice System (JJS). It is increasingly recognized that disparate outcomes may reflect the extent to which JJS involvement intersects with developmental patterns of delinquency and is attuned to normative adolescent development, such as maturing self-regulation. However, little is known about the ways in which JJS services influence maturing self-regulation, and how change in these processes will impact delinquency trajectories extending through early adulthood. Even less is known about the impact of JJS on developmental trajectories of delinquency and self-regulation in adolescent girls, despite the rapid increase of girls' involvement in the JJS in recent years. The goal of the current study was to advance knowledge to support effective JJS programs and policies by examining the interface between adolescent self-regulation development, delinquency, and JJS involvement. This project built on the Pittsburgh Girls Study (PGS): a large, longitudinal, racially diverse, urban community sample of females that had been followed annually for 13 years since childhood. New data were collected with support from grant 2013-JF-FX-0058 from a subset of PGS participants at ages 19 and 20 years to capture patterns of delinquency persistence and desistance and to assess outcomes in young adulthood. At the end of the funding period, 88% of the original sample of participants had been interviewed through age 20. In addition, official juvenile justice criminal records were gathered for all 2,450 PGS participants. Analyses were conducted to examine: 1) the impact of JJS involvement on developmental trajectories of delinquency and young adult adjustment; 2) the impact of JJS involvement on self-regulation maturation; 3) the relationship between self-regulation development and change in delinquency and young adult adjustment; and 4) mechanisms during adolescence that explain the link between JJS involvement and delinquency. Results showed JJS involvement predicted concurrent and subsequent changes in self-control during adolescence as well as increased risk for subsequent delinquent behavior, poor educational attainment, employment status, and less satisfaction with life in young adulthood. Moreover, self-control in adolescence partially mediated several of the observed prospective associations between JJS involvement and young adult outcomes. These findings add to a research base that can help policymakers better understand how JJS interventions impact normative developmental processes in ways that influence the course of delinquency. Such information is a critical step in improving outcomes of adolescent girls involved in the JJS through the improvement of interventions promoting self-regulation maturation, accountability, resilience and desistance.

Hipwell, Alison, and Stepp, Stephanie. Developing Self-Regulation, Delinquency Trajectories, and Juvenile Justice Outcomes in Young Women, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1999-2016. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-09-24.

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote
United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2013-JF-FX-0058)


Users interested in obtaining the restricted data must complete a restricted data use agreement with ICPSR, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to the restricted data via the ICPSR restricted data contract portal which can be accessed on the study home page.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1999 -- 2016
1999 -- 2016
  1. This study builds upon the Pittsburgh Girls Study. For more information on the Pittsburgh Girls Study, visit the Pittsburgh Girls Study website.

This study sought to document and understand the associations between juvenile justice system involvement and the development of self-regulation and delinquency in a population-based sample of female adolescents followed through young adulthood.

In each annual assessment wave, face-to-face interviews lasting 1-2 hours are conducted in the home by field interviewers who are well trained to ask questions of a sensitive nature (e.g. engagement in illegal activities). Interviews were conducted with the caregiver until the girl participants were age 18. Separate, private interviews with the girls began at age 7, continuing annually through ages 20.

The original Pittsburgh Girls Study sample that this study relies upon comprised 2,450 girls (aged 5-8 years in wave 1), along with their caregivers and teachers, who resided in the City of Pittsburgh in 1998-1999. The sample was identified following an enumeration of 103,238 Pittsburgh households. City neighborhoods were divided in 23 low-income (at least 25% of the families were living at or below the poverty level) and 66 remaining neighborhoods using household poverty data from the 1990 Census. In this process, every household in low-income city neighborhoods, and 50% of households in all other neighborhoods were contacted to determine the presence of an eligible girl. Of the 2,875 families who could be contacted further, 2,450 (85.2%) 5-8 year-old girls and their caregivers agreed to participate in the prospective study.

Longitudinal: Panel

Girls who resided in the city of Pittsburgh and were aged 5-8 in 1998-1999 and their caretakers.


Face-to-face interviews lasting 1-2 hours with participants and caregivers.

Variables in the Child Police Contacts dataset include information on the time, location, reasons, and consequences for arrests, as well as the subject's emotional response to arrests. There are also variables about other police encounters.

Variables in the Demographic dataset include information on race, high school graduation status, employment status, and whether or not the subject or subject's household receives public assistance.

Variables in the Flourishing Life Scale dataset include information on the subject's self-conception and optimism towards life.

Variables in the Official Records dataset include the frequency and severity with which various crimes appear in subject's official records, including theft, violence, and the posession and distribution of marijuana and other drugs.

Variables in the Satisfaction with Life Scale dataset include information on the subject's view on their own life, whether or not they would change things, and if they have gotten the things most important to them.

Variables in the Self-Reported Delinquency Scale dataset include the subject's own reporting of their delinquent activity, including theft, violence, the posession and distribution of marijuana and other drugs, vandalism, arson, weapons posession, hitchhiking, breaking and entering, prank calls, illegal checks, running away from home, and others.

Variables in the Social Skills Rating Scale include the subject and caretaker's reporting of their social skills, including avoiding situations that are likely to result in trouble, receiving criticism, helping with household tasks, appropriate class behavior, temper control, disagreeing without arguing, acceptance of punishment, and reaction when hit or pushed.

Face-to-face interviews were completed with 86.1% of the original age cohorts.

Flourishing Life Scale (FLS), Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., Biswas-Diener, R. (2009).

Satisfaction with Life Scale (SLS), Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., Griffin, S. (1985).

Self-Reported Delinquency Scale (SRD), Loeber, R., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., Van Kammen, W. B., Farrington, D. P. (1989).

Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS), Gresham, F. M., Elliott, S. N. (1990).





  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.