Persistent offenders and adolescence-limited offenders: Differences in life-courses

Lea Pulkkinen, Päivi Fadjukoff, Tuuli Pitkänen
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health: CBMH 2020 May 28

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: As our previous study indicated, almost half of juvenile delinquents continued offending in adulthood, while the rest ceased to do so. We compared these groups with each other and with non-offenders in the life-course use of alcohol, identity development and life situation.

METHODS: Based on the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development, four groups were formed at age 42 for men and women: persistent, adolescence-limited and adult-onset offenders and non-offenders. Longitudinal data (N = 369; 53% males) have been collected at ages 8, 14, 20, 27, 36, 42 and 50.

RESULTS: Persistent offending, but not adolescence-limited offending, was associated with the accumulation of problems in adulthood and an elevated risk of death before age 54. For males, persistent offending was associated with heavy drinking from adolescence to middle age, diffuse identity, high divorce rates and poverty. For females, persistent offending was associated with heavy drinking in adulthood and a higher rate of being outside the workforce in middle age. In males, adolescence-limited offending was associated with more controlled drinking in adulthood, and in females, with early divorce from the partner and advanced identity.

CONCLUSIONS: Detecting the risks of the accumulation of problems and potential for positive transitions of juvenile delinquents until middle age will be important for prevention and treatment.

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