Transcending the Boundary Between Health and Delinquency: Multiple Outcomes of Childhood Risk

Terrance J. Wade, University o Cincinnati Medical Center
David J. Pevalin, University of Essex

Do risks experienced by youths in their social and structural environment cascade to create children who are less resilient or more susceptible to a multitude of adverse outcomes? Moving beyond the usual discipline-specific focus on consequences of victimization, we examine whether childhood risk factors predict a broad range of health and delinquency outcomes and examine to what extent these outcomes are associated to each other. To this end, we employ the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health on a sample of 4,834 youths that were sampled across two waves. Results indicate that delinquent behaviors such as violence, aggression, property damage are similarly predicted by the same risk factors as are health outcomes and behaviors such as depression, perceived health, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and hard drug use. Moreover, all outcomes were associated with one another suggesting they may be comorbid manifestations of risk exposure. These findings suggest that there may be an underlying commonality between discipline-specific phenomena usually perceived of as distinct and independent due to the underlying exposure to risk.

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Updated 05/20/2006