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Influence of Neuropsychological Deficits in Early Childhood on Low Self-Control and Misconduct Through Early Adolescence

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 4 Dated: July - August 2013 Pages: 243-251
Dylan B. Jackson; Kevin M. Beaver
Date Published
August 2013
9 pages
This study fills a void in the research literature by examining the influence of neuropsychological deficits in early childhood on levels of self-control and misconduct through early adolescence.
The study found that neuropsychological deficits identified in early childhood persisted in undermining the development of normative self-control in adolescence, which contributed to misconduct. Deficits in neuropsychological functioning during kindergarten age were consistently predictive of lower levels of self-control during the third, fifth, and eighth grades, as well as higher levels of problem behaviors during the eighth grade. These effects remained significant after accounting for demographic variables, features of the neighborhood, and a number of parenting variables. These findings suggest that Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) arguments that low self-control results from poor parenting practices is incomplete. A wealth of research from the fields of biology, genetics, and neuroscience has produced evidence that such an argument is limited. This research has shown repeatedly that self-control has important conceptual overlap with the concept of executive functioning; has a strong genetic component; and significantly diminishes in correlation with neuropsychological deficits in children, adolescents, and adults. Data for this study were obtained from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten (ECLS-K) the largest nationally representative sample of U.S. children. The study included detailed information on children's temperament, psychomotor abilities, behavior, social interactions, and cognitive abilities. This information was obtained from parents, teachers, school administrators, and the children themselves. In line with prior research, a modified version of Gresham and Elliott's widely used Social Skills Rating Scale was used to assess several dimensions of low self-control, including hyperactivity, over-activity, and behavioral regulation. 4 tables and 65 references