Childhood Predictors of Male Criminality: A Prospective Population-Based Follow-up Study From Age 8 to Late Adolescence

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Abstract

Objective:

To study childhood predictors for late adolescence criminality.

Method:

The follow-up sample included 2,713 Finnish boys born in 1981. Information about the 8-year-old boy' problem behavior was obtained from parents, teachers, and the children themselves. The follow-up information about criminal offenses was based on the national police register between the years 1998 and 2001 when the subjects were 16 to 20 years old.

Results:

According to the national police register, 22.2% of boys had at least one criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation during the 4-year study period. Living in nonintact family, low parental education level, parent reports of conduct problems, and teacher reports of hyperkinetic problems when the child was 8 independently predicted a high level (more than five) of offenses. Living in nonintact family at age 8 predicted all types of criminal offenses. Low parental education level and parent or teacher reports of conduct problems independently predicted violence, property, traffic, and drunk driving offenses. Teacher reports of hyperkinetic problems independently predicted all types of criminal offenses except drunk driving. Self-reports of bullying others independently predicted violent offenses.

Conclusions:

Living in a broken home, low parental education level, conduct problems, and hyperactivity in middle childhood predict criminal offenses in late adolescence. Efforts to prevent later criminality already in childhood are emphasized. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 2006;45(5):578-586.

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