Dr. Menard Advances Criminal Justice Studies with Statistics

Dr. Scott Menard taught a lot of people to use statistics to address crime and victimization issues involving juvenile delinquency, mental health, socio-economic status, substance abuse, and false accusations, to name a few.

Dr. Menard, a Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, is retiring after a decade of teaching in the College of Criminal Justice. He is the author of four books on logistic regression and longitudinal research; coauthor of books on youth gangs, neighborhoods and crime, and multiple problem (crime, drug use, mental health problems) youth; and contributor to more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, which have been cited more than 12,000 times. During his tenure at Sam Houston State University, he chaired a dozen dissertation committees and served on eight more.

“He taught a lot of people to use statistics,” said Dr. Phillip Lyons, Dean of the Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice and Director of the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center.

Dr. Menard is one of the principal investigators of the National Youth Survey Family Study, following in the footstep of Drs. Delbert Elliott and David Huizinga who began the project in 1976. This database of youth behavior stretches over three generations and 30 years, collecting wide-ranging information on a large sample youth and their parents, such as demographic and socioeconomic status, disruptive events in the home, neighborhood problems, parental aspirations for youth, labeling, integration of family and peer contexts, attitudes toward deviance in adults and juveniles, parental discipline, community involvement, drug and alcohol use, victimization, pregnancy, depression, use of outpatient services, spouse violence by respondent and partner, and sexual activity.

For Dr. Menard, his key areas of study were criminology theory, patterns of illegal behaviors over the life course, victimization, and suspects falsely accused of crime. He used the data to test theories such as strain, social control, and learning theory, and studied patterns of illegal behavior to understand both crime and victimization over time. His latest research, with SHSU PH.D. graduate Wendi Pollock, investigated those falsely accused of crimes by police.

“The data set is great, having extensive information on criminal behavior as well as pro-social behavior that follows youth through the life course,” said Dr. Menard. “I work with doctoral students to get research published not only for the students, but also for the study. I am really pleased at how nicely the needs of the student doing research matches with the data in the study.”

When Dr. Menard came to Sam Houston in 2006, he chose SHSU because of its faculty, graduate program, and proximity to his wife’s family. Dr. Menard said he has learned as much from his doctoral students as he taught them. “I was expecting good things when I got here, and it has been better than I expected,” he said.

“The program, the people, and so many other things came together at the right time,” said Dr. Menard. “If I had the decision to make all over, I would make the same one again. … It’s been a good 10 years and definitely a good move for my career. Right now is the time to move into my retirement.”

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