Association of juvenile delinquency and illicit drug use of teenagers living in El Paso, Texas

Francisco Martinez, University of Texas at El Paso


Juvenile delinquency and illicit drug use has been a continuous problem in the United States despite efforts to curb them. Researchers have looked into the relationship that exists between these behaviors. Some of them have established that the relationship is a causal one with juvenile delinquency preceding illicit drug use; others have found that illicit drug use causes juvenile delinquency, yet others have found that the two are linked to other external variables. This study focused on the answers provided by teenagers who were referred to the El Paso Juvenile Probation Department (EPJPD) by the judicial system. The self-reported data were secondary, cross-sectional data that relied on the participants' honesty. ^ Two hundred and eighty five teenagers who were born between 1981 and 1983 answered the questions of the intake packet; subsequently, the EPJPD staff collected the data and archived it. The data were analyzed by a graduate student to determine if there was a relationship between the variables. The results show that there is a significant relationship between number of illicit drugs used and number of prior offenses. A variable that frequently appeared as significant on the analyses was gang membership. Caution should be used when interpreting such significance since this variable is closely related to other variables and might be capturing the same effect as others. Finding a significant relationship would serve to establish the factors leading to problematic behavior and to improve existing programs for treatment and prevention. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Martinez, Francisco, "Association of juvenile delinquency and illicit drug use of teenagers living in El Paso, Texas" (2005). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1427700.