Explaining Discrepancies in Arrest Rates Between Black and White Male Juveniles

Paula J. Fite, Porche' Wynn, Dustin A. Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The authors investigated discrepancies in arrest rates between Black and White male juveniles by examining the role of early risk factors for arrest. Two hypotheses were evaluated: (a) Disproportionate minority arrest is due to increased exposure to early risk factors, and (b) a differential sensitivity to early risk factors contributes to disproportionate minority arrest. The study included 481 Black and White boys who were followed from childhood to early adulthood. A higher incidence of early risk factors accounted for racial differences related to any juvenile arrest, as well as differences in violence- and theft-related arrests. However, increased exposure to early risk factors did not explain race differences in drug-related arrests. Minimal support was found for the hypothesis that a differential sensitivity to risk factors accounts for disproportionate rate of minority male arrests. In sum, most racial discrepancies in juvenile male arrests were accounted for by an increased exposure to childhood risk factors. Specifically, Black boys were more likely to display early conduct problems and low academic achievement and experience poor parent-child communication, peer delinquency, and neighborhood problems, which increased their risk for juvenile arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)916-927
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • juvenile arrest
  • racial discrepancies
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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