Relations between offending, injury and illness

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SUMMARYThe objectives of this study were to determine relations between offending and health, and how illness and injury relate to concurrent offending-whether offending predicts health or vice versa, and whether relations persist after adjustment for childhood predictors of offending. Data collected in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development were analysed. This is a prospective longitudinal survey of 411 South London males first recruited at age 8. Information about injuries and illnesses between ages 16 and 18 was set against information on offending and other types of antisocial behaviour.Males who were injured (especially in assaults) tended to be convicted, to be violent, to have unskilled manual jobs and to be generally antisocial. Respiratory tract illnesses were negatively related to convictions and antisocial behaviour in general. Drug users were significantly likely to be ill. Adult convictions were predicted by childhood troublesome behaviour, daring/hyperactivity, low IQ/attainment, a convicted parent, family disruption/poor supervision and poverty. Assault injuries and respiratory tract illnesses did not predict adult convictions independently of these childhood factors.It was concluded that injury is one symptom of an antisocial personality that arises in childhood and persists into adulthood. Therefore, measures that lead to a reduction in offending should also lead to a reduction in concurrent injuries. Negative relations between a range of antisocial behaviours and respiratory tract illness deserve further study.

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