Future Criminals: Warning Signs in Young Boys?

future-criminalsI recently was given the most fascinating study of teen boy behavior and how it affects the their behavior later in life.  This study, called “Childhood and Adolescent Predictors of Late Onset Criminal Careers”explores the emergence of a criminal career in adulthood.

Conclusion: “Nervousness, social isolation, anxiety, and neuroticism seem to protect against offending under age 21 but not after age 21.”

Habits of Young Boys that Predict Criminal Behavior As Adults:

1) Nervousness

2) Anti-Social Behavior (Boys who had few friends during ages 8–10)

3) Not having sexual intercourse by age 18.

4) Teacher-rated anxiousness at ages 12–14

5) High neuroticism at age 16.

Oddly, being nervous and withdrawn protected the boys against perpetrating criminal behavior in adolescence, yet these protective effects tended to wear off after age 21.  I am writing about this article, not to worry parents of anxious boys, but to stress the importance of early intervention.  This might prevent a variety of maladjustment problems and difficulties in adult life. Helping boys to become more socially adjusted early is very important for parents, educators and other youth workers.

Georgia Zara and David P. Farrington. “Childhood and Adolescent Predictors of Late Onset Criminal Careers.” Received: 15 July 2008 / Accepted: 23 September 2008. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008 J Youth Adolescence
DOI 10.1007/s10964-008-9350-3
Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
e-mail: zara@psych.unito.it

This post is dedicated to Zach Suchin because he is the most well-adjusted, social butterfly, least nervous person I know.  Zach has shocked no one by starting a successful company called College Tonight that helps college students tap into their local social scene.  Zach is where the parties at (I couldn’t help but rhyme it).

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5 thoughts on “Future Criminals: Warning Signs in Young Boys?”

  1. What kind of “criminal behavior” are we talking about here? I find it easier to believe if we are talking about theft, fraud, and shoplifting maybe, but violent crimes? I don’t believe it.

    –Mike

  2. Personally, I regard predictive studies as about as valid as using a horoscope. We know nothing about how they’re conducted and if we did know I suspect we would not be very impressed by the level of ‘scientific’ content.

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