Beginning in 1976, the National Youth Survey has been administered to adolescents ages 11 through 17, with the purpose of gauging attitudes and behaviors on a variety of topics. The survey, which was created by Delbert Elliott, is run out of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science and Institute for Behavioral Genetics. The original survey included 1,725 respondents. It is a longitudinal study, so respondents were aged 46 through 55 in 2011. In 1993, researchers began interviewing the partners and the children of the original respondents as well. Consequently, the name of the survey was changed to the National Youth Survey–Family Study in 2000.
The survey is administered in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia, and respondents to the survey were randomly chosen from across the United States. Trained researchers administer the National Youth Survey by interviewing respondents for approximately 90 minutes. Originally, interviews included the young person and his or her parent. Questions address attitudes, beliefs, and values related to both conventional and deviant behavior. They cover problems at home, in neighborhoods, and in schools, including but not limited to victimization, pregnancy, substance abuse, depression, dating violence, sexual activity, school grades, communication with adults and community involvement. The National Youth Survey–Family Study includes additional questions that cover the respondent’s family, family relationships, educational attainment, and careers. In the year 2002, researchers began collecting DNA from the respondents.
The current sample has the following demographic characteristics:
- 79% are white
- 15% are African American
- 4.5% are Latino or Hispanic
- 1% are Asian American/Pacific Islander
- 0.5% are Native American
- 53% are male
Several major research articles have been published based on the National Youth Survey, some of which are listed in the “References:” section. The National Youth Survey has also been used in a number of doctoral dissertations.
- National Youth Survey–Family Study: http://www.colorado.edu/IBS/NYSFS/index.html
- Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Ageton, S. S. (1985). Explaining delinquency and drug use. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
- Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Menard, S. (1989) Multiple problem youth: Delinquency, drugs and mental health problems. New York: Springer.
- Elliott, D. S. (1994). Serious violent offenders: Onset, developmental course, and termination. Criminology 32, 1-22.
- Mihalic, S. W., & Elliott, D. S. (1997). Short- and long-term consequences of adolescent work. Youth and Society 28(4), 464-498.