Childhood Predictors of Criminal Offending: Results From a 19-Year Longitudinal Epidemiological Study of Boys

Susan Young, Eric Taylor, Gisli Gudjonsson
Journal of Attention Disorders 2016, 20 (3): 206-13

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relative contribution of hyperactivity, conduct, and emotional problems in predicting criminal offending.

METHOD: In all, 173 boys aged 6 to 8 years (assessed for hyperactivity, conduct, and emotional problems) were followed up 19 years later by examining criminal offense histories.

RESULTS: Significant main effects for total and violent convictions were found, the strongest being for violent criminal offenses. Conduct problems predicted general offending (irrespective of the type of conviction), whereas emotional problems were the single best predictor of violent convictions. Hyperactivity was not a significant predictor in the models.

CONCLUSION: The findings provide insight into the developmental mechanisms that mediate criminal behavior by showing that childhood emotional problems independently contribute to the risk of violent offending in later life.

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