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Predicting Adolescent and Adult Antisocial Behavior Among Adjudicated Delinquent Females

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 54 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 3-33
Stephen A. Cernkovich; Nadine Lanctot; Peggy C. Giordano
Date Published
January 2008
31 pages
The study examined the impact of family factors on predicting adolescent delinquency and adult criminality among females.
Abuse during childhood and adolescence has a long-term impact on antisocial behavior; family strain in the form of physical and sexual abuse during childhood was a strong predictor of adult criminality, but not necessarily of delinquency involvement during adolescence. Findings showed significant differences between those females above and below the adolescent delinquency median for four out of five social control measures. The girls with higher levels of adolescent delinquency reported significantly lower levels of family caring and trust, communication with parents, parental supervision, and parental disapproval of behavior than did their less delinquent counterparts; they also reported substantially more family conflict which is consistent with strain theory. However, the only other strain variable significantly associated with adolescent delinquency was parental disapproval of behavior (a social control variable) and conflict with parents (a strain variable). The findings were unable to discriminate between higher and lower levels of delinquency involvement during adolescence; however, prior delinquency also increased the likelihood of being in the adult criminal high offending group by more than 200 percent. The respondents with higher levels of adult criminal activity reported abuse means that were significantly higher than the means reported by respondents with lesser adult criminal activity. Being the victim of sexual abuse as a minor increased the likelihood of being in the high adult criminality group by 264 to 334 percent, whereas being the victim of physical abuse as a minor increased the likelihood by 579 to 605 percent. By early adulthood, the offending rates often had decreased dramatically; those who continued to offend at high levels in adulthood were those more likely to have been abused and/or who had not yet adapted to or overcome their abuse in conventional ways. Tables, notes, references