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Violent Offending Among Juveniles: A 7-Year Longitudinal Study of Recidivism, Desistance, and Associations With Mental Health

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 41 Issue: 3 Dated: 2017 Pages: 273-283
Sascha Hein; Baptiste Barbot; Amanda Square; John Chapman; Catherine Geib; Elena L. Grigorenk
Date Published
11 pages
Since the development of violent offending among juveniles is poorly understood because of limited availability of relevant data, small sample sizes, and shortage of longitudinal data sets, the current study analyzed developmental patterns of violent offending over 7 years in the complete population of court-referred youth in Connecticut between 2006 and 2012 (n=58,678; mean age at first offense was 14.7 years old).
This unique dataset provided several key findings. First, results from a latent class growth analysis showed that violent crimes peaked at age 14-15, with high-rate adolescent offenders (3.7 percent of the sample) accounting for 31.9 percent of all violent offenses. In addition, 74.2 percent of this group desisted from violent crimes in adulthood. Higher levels of self-reported anger/irritability slightly increased the odds of violent recidivism (odds ratio, OR = 1.09), where higher levels of depression/anxiety depressed the odds (OR = 0.89). The overrepresentation of males, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic youth among high-rate adolescent offenders were traceable through adolescence, but not beyond the age of 18. Overall, these findings may assist in informing new delinquency interventions that target the needs of this proportionally small group of violent adolescent offenders who commit a large proportion of violent crimes. (Publisher abstract modified)