Criminal Careers of Juvenile Frequent Offenders and Developmental Aspects

Angela Kunkat, University of Greifswald

The, paper presents research data of an empirical study analysing the delinquent behaviour and the social background of 306 frequent juvenile offenders in East-Germany. The study compares cross sectional data of juvenile offenders who were at least within one year time three times arrested by the police with the longitudinal data of the official criminal records of these juveniles. The question in this study is whether the identifying of frequent or chronic offender after the police data is valid compared with the criminal records data. The criminal records revealed that 7% of the police arrested juveniles had no records at all and 13% had only up to two records in life period. Nearly 25% of theses frequent arrested juveniles broke off their career after the last police arrest (for this study) occurred. Looking at recent developmental theories in criminal career research with an emphasis on dynamic aspects the question is how the group of the persisters and the one who broke off their career differ from each other. Is the influence of social background factors like family and school problems stronger on delinquent behaviour or are the situational factors like risk taking behaviour or delinquent peers more important?

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Updated 05/20/2006