Karine Descormiers, Martin Bouchard, Ray Corrado


General strain theory (GST) posits that the experience of strains cause negative emotions that individuals try to alleviate through various strategies, including delinquency. GST predicts that the choice of delinquency as a coping solution will be more likely in certain conditions, including those where criminal opportunities are more abundant. The current study considers the role of strain as a direct predictor of lucrative criminal opportunities. Because we are specifically interested in lucrative, as opposed to routine criminal opportunities, our theoretical framework is also informed by research on criminal achievement which posits that offenders with more social capital are more likely to make money out of crime. Drawing from a sample of 170 juvenile offenders incarcerated in British Columbia, our results show that strain experiences are significantly associated with daily access to lucrative criminal opportunities, even after controlling for other factors, including negative emotions such as anger. Our results also indicate that criminal social capital – that is, the ability and willingness to collaborate with co-offenders in criminal pursuits – is strongly associated to access to lucrative criminal opportunities. The number of delinquent peers, however, did not emerge as a significant predictor. Theoretical and empirical implications for understanding and preventing juvenile delinquency are discussed.


social capital; delinquent peers; criminal opportunities; general strain theory; delinquency; juvenile offenders

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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