Explaining Adolescents' Delinquency and Substance Use: A Test of the Maturity Gap: The SNARE study

Jan Kornelis Dijkstra*, Tina Kretschmer, Kim Pattiselanno, Aart Franken, Zeena Harakeh, Wilma Vollebergh, Rene Veenstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: One explanation for the increase in delinquency in adolescence is that young people are trapped in the so-called maturity gap: the discrepancy between biological and social maturation, which motivates them to engage in delinquency as a temporary means to bridge this gap by emphasizing their maturity. In the current study, we investigated to what extent the discrepancy between pubertal status (i.e., biological maturation) and autonomy in decision making (i.e., social maturation) is related to conflict with parents, which in turn predicts increasing levels of delinquency as well as substance use.

Methods: Hypotheses were tested by means of path models in a longitudinal sample of adolescent boys and girls (N = 1,844; M age 13.02) from the Social Network Analyses of Risk behaviors in Early adolescence (SNARE) study using a one-year time interval.

Results: Results indicate that biological maturation in interaction with social maturation predict conflict with parents, which in turn was related to higher levels of delinquency and substance use over time. No gender differences were found.

Conclusions: These findings reveal that conflict with parents is an important mechanism, linking the interplay of biological and social maturation with delinquency and substance use in early adolescence for boys and girls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-767
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2015


  • delinquency
  • substance use
  • maturity gap
  • longitudinal
  • adolescence
  • AGE
  • BOYS

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