Primary Sources: Reducing Delinquency Among Native American Young People

Native American woman and youth

What Increases Risk and Protection for Delinquent Behaviors Among American Indian Youth? Findings from Three Tribal Communities” (abstract), Youth & Society 41(3):382-418.

What it's about: This article identifies the factors that make Native American youth in three Tribal communities more or less likely to get into trouble for violent behavior aimed at themselves or others. The researchers surveyed youth, parents, elders and youth workers, aiming to get a full picture of the influences on youths' lives.

Why read it: This study is one of few to employ methods that allow tribal members to identify relevant risk and protective factors, or negative and positive influences, among Native American youth, rather than applying existing ideas of what factors put youth at risk or protect them. The study is also the first to use four different sources of information to examine how these factors influence Native American youth delinquency. The authors base their research on an ecological framework, meaning that they consider an individual’s relationship to his or her surroundings — family, school, neighborhood and so on.

Biggest take away for youth workers: In all three communities the authors studied, family was one of most important influences on Native American youth, for better or for worse. Given that fact, Tribal communities need programs that strengthen parent-adolescent communication, build parenting skills and offer cultural awareness and sensitivity training to school personnel, the authors say. Such programs should take each Tribe’s culture and unique strengths and problems into consideration and should be designed to fit into the lives of overburdened parents.

Additional reference: The National Center for Cultural Competence’s website provides a list of resources for assessing and improving an organization or individual’s cultural competence. See also this collection of evidence-based parent education programs from the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)


9-5 pm Eastern