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Pittsburgh Youth Study
Developmental Trends Study
Pittsburgh Girls Study
Department of Psychiatry


Currently Interviewing!

The Pittsburgh Youth Study is currently scheduling follow-up interviews!  Please contact Rob Cotter for more information.  Email:   Phone:  412-383-5044 or 1-866-647-8286.

This longitudinal study of a community sample of inner-city boys began in 1987.   Funding for the PYS has come from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The 1,517 boys in the study had been selected from the first, fourth, and seventh grades of Pittsburgh public schools (called the youngest, middle, and oldest sample, respectively).  After an initial screening (85% of the randomly selected families participated), 30% of the most antisocial boys (based on parent, teacher and participant information) were included in the sample for follow-up, along with 30% randomly selected from the remainder.  Just over half of the sample is African American, and the remainder Caucasian.  Over 90% lived with their natural mother (see Loeber, Farrington et al., 1998 for details).

Project goals:

1.  Document the development of antisocial and delinquent behavior from childhood to early adulthood, the risk factors that impinge on that development, and help seeking and service provision of boys’ behavior problems.

2.  Focuses on boys’ development of alcohol and drug use, and internalizing problems.

Assessments were done initially half-yearly, and later yearly and had the boys, their parents and teachers as informants.  A large variety of measures were used, with several measures resulting from collaboration among investigators of the OJJDP Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency, consisting of the Denver Youth Survey (Principal Investigator: David Huizinga), the Rochester Youth Development Study (Principal Investigator: Terence P. Thornberry), and the Pittsburgh Youth Study.

Key Findings:

  • The higher number of risk domains (i.e. in the child, family, school, etc.), the higher the probability of later serious delinquency; the lower the number of promotive domains, the lower that probability.  Risk and promotive factors appear to cancel each other out in determining long-term risk of serious delinquency (Stouthamer-Loeber et al., 2002).

  • Child-parent interactions tend to be stable, such as physical punishment, communication, supervision, positive parenting, and bad parent-child relationship qualities.  However, physical punishment decreased, while poor supervision and low-level positive parenting increased.  In contrast, poor communication and a disadvantaged relationship between the parent and child did not materially change between ages 6 and 18 (Loeber, Drinkwater et al., 2000).

  • Almost 2% of the boys in the middle and oldest samples were convicted of homicide (Loeber et al., in preparation).

  • In most cases, delinquent attitudes predicted delinquency as well as the reverse.  However, attitudes predicted delinquency better with advancing age (Zhang et al., 1997)

For more information, please contact:

Academic:  Rolf Loeber Ph.D. 


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