The role of neighborhood context in youth co-offending

David R. Schaefer, Nancy Rodriguez, Scott H. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Despite co-offending being a core criminological fact, locating suitable peers has many challenges. Chief among these, given the risky nature of co-offending, is finding trustworthy accomplices. We propose that neighborhoods serve as youths' most ready source of accomplices, and as such, their composition affects the likelihood of identifying suitable co-offenders. In particular, youth are more likely to co-offend in contexts with more peers of their race/ethnicity, less disadvantage, and greater residential stability-all of which promote trust among neighbors. We test our hypotheses using multilevel models applied to census data and official court records for 7,484 delinquent youth in a large metropolitan area. The results offer support for our hypotheses and provide greater insight into how individual and contextual factors combine to affect co-offending behavior. An implication of these findings is that many of the same neighborhood characteristics that reduce crime lead to a greater proportion of co-offending.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-139
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Co-offending
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Neighborhoods
  • Social networks
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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