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Neighborhood and Community Factors: Effects on Deviant Behavior and Social Competence

  • Francisca Fariña (a1), Ramón Arce (a2) and Mercedes Novo (a2)

Socialization in a neighborhood and community at risk, defined in terms of violence, social alienation, school failure, and disruptive behavior, is a risk factor for the acquisition of antisocial and delinquent behavior. In order to test this hypothesis and examine the underlying mechanisms involved, 346 participants, 155 high-risk and 191 low-risk, aged 11 to 13, that is, under the age of criminal responsibility as established by the Spanish Law 5/2000 were selected. The results reveal that high-risk youngsters had higher rates of antisocial behavior and lower levels of social skills (i.e., greater tendency to externalize attribution of responsibility, fewer conflict resolution strategies, lower self esteem, and a lower degrees of emotional intelligence) in comparison to the lower-risk group. Finally, the results and implications of the study are discussed in the light of designing prevention programs.

La socialización en un vecindario y comunidad de riesgo, definido por la violencia, exclusión social, fracaso escolar y comportamientos disruptivos, es un factor de riesgo para la adquisición de comportamientos antisociales y delictivos (p.e., Farrington, 1996; Lösell y Bender, 2003). Para contrastar esta hipótesis así como los mecanismos subyacentes a la misma, tomamos una muestra de 346, 155 de alto riesgo y 191 de bajo riesgo, participantes de entre 11 y 13 años, es decir, sin responsabilidad penal según la Ley 5/2000. Los resultados mostraron que los jóvenes de un ambiente social de riesgo presentaban mayores tasas de comportamiento antisocial así como una menor competencia social (vs. gr., mayor tendencia a la atribución externa de responsabilidad, menos estrategias de afrontamiento, un autoconcepto más bajo y un menor desarrollo de la inteligencia emocional) en comparación con menores de bajo riesgo social. Finalmente, se discuten los resultados e implicaciones para el diseño e implementación de programas preventivos.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Francisca Fariña, Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación, Avda. de Buenos Aires, s/n, 36002 Pontevedra(Spain). Phone: +34-986-801708. E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
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