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Juvenile delinquency in urban school and residential contexts


PI: Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg

Scientific Staff: Dipl.-Soz. André Ernst, N.N.
Student Assistants: N.N.

Funding Agency: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Project Duration: 2020-2023 (36 months)

Collaboration Partners: Criminal-/Criminological Research Unit of the Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia; Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+), University of Cambridge

Universitätsstaße 24 | D-50931 Köln | 0221 470 3736

Study Description

Social contexts occupy a prominent role in the explanation of juvenile delinquency. Criminological research has produced a great deal of evidence for the relevance of residential and school contexts. However, most studies focus on one type of social context in isolation and rarely examine in a theory-guided manner which persons are affected by social contexts particularly strongly, less so, or not at all. The lack of studies on the impact of multiple contexts and its conditioning by individual attributes is primarily due to the paucity of suitable data sources. This project contributes to narrowing these research gaps and attempts to arrive at a deeper understanding of the impact of residential and school contexts on juvenile delinquency. The project is based on the combination and analysis of different data sources that, taken together, allow for new insights. In the first part of the project, we will analyse data of the “Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study” (PADS+), that includes unified measures of collective efficacy at the neighborhood, school, and family level, thereby enabling a simultaneous analysis of their influences. We will join forces with Professor Per-Olof Wikström and his team at the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University in this part of the project. In a second part, we will link data from the DFG-funded study “Friendship and Violence in Adolescence” with spatial police record data to measure the incidences of crime in residential and school contexts. To do this, we will cooperate with the Criminal-/Criminological Research Unit of the Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia. The project aims at new insights on the relative importance of residential and school contexts, possible amplifying or compensating effects, and their differential importance for individuals with varying attributes. The empirical analyses will be guided by Wikström’s Situational Action Theory and work on the criminogenic characteristics of social contexts. Specifically, we will examine how residential and school contexts affect juvenile delinquency due to varying crime rates, social norms, and the extent of social control and trust – and how such influences depend on adolescents’ moral beliefs, self-control, and their socio-spatial embededdness in peer groups.




Ernst, André and Sven Lenkewitz, 2020: "Violence, Street Code Internalization and the Moderating Effect of the Status-Violence Norm in German Schools", Kriminologie – Das Online-Journal | Criminology – The Online Journal 2(1): 39–63. DOI: https://doi:10.18716/ojs/krimoj/2020.1.4

Wittek, Mark, Clemens Kroneberg, and Kathrin Lämmermann, 2020: "Who is fighting with whom? How ethnic origin shapes friendship, dislike, and physical violence relations in German secondary schools", Social Networks 60: 34-47. DOI: