Date Awarded

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Danielle Dallaire

Committee Member

Adrian Bravo

Committee Member

Todd Thrash


Adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system often express hope for their future. However, most research on this population centers on negative outcomes, such as being re-arrested or developing mental health problems. The purpose of the current study was to better understand factors that promote positive development of youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Guided by Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979), we examined whether the following variables were associated with well-being: maternal warmth, peer warmth, school bonding, neighborhood conditions, or procedural justice.

The current study used data from the Crossroads Study. Participants included 1,216 adolescent male first-time offenders who were arrested in California, Louisiana, or Pennsylvania. Baseline measurements were taken after the participants deposition in court, and follow-up measures were taken 1-year, 2-years, 3-years, 4-years, and 5-years after baseline. Linear curve models with structured residuals were used to assess between- and within- person relations between our ecological predictor variables and well-being. In the current study, well-being was operationalized using Seligman’s PERMA framework, with a measure that adapted this framework for adolescents (Kern et al., 2016).

Results indicated that maternal and peer warmth had significant between and within-person effects on well-being. The relation between these constructs and well-being was reciprocal. School bonding had significant between and within-person associations with well-being, but the relation between constructs was unidirectional. Neighborhood conditions and procedural justice were not significantly associated with well-being on a between or within-person level. These results suggest that increasing maternal warmth, peer warmth, and school bonding may increase the well-being of youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Incorporating well-being components into interventions for youth involved in the juvenile justice system is a promising area for future research.




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