Delinquency during childhood is currently the strongest predictor of who will become a chronic, serious and/or violent juvenile delinquent. Among children under age 10 who have been arrested for a delinquent act, up to 60% will be arrested for multiple offenses, a serious non-violent offense or a serious violent offense by age 18. However, at least 40% will not. The next step in the research agenda is to determine what distinguishes child delinquents who will escalate into serious delinquency from those who will not. This study presents evidence that a screening instrument based on the number and severity of risk factors for delinquency in the child, family, school and neighborhood can identify a continuum of risk for delinquency in general, and violent delinquency in particular. A key feature of the instrument is a score that takes the interaction between temperament and contextual risks into account. Evidence of the psychometric validity, construct validity, and criterion-related validity of the Risk Factor Profile instrument will be presented using screening data for 163 children between the ages of 5 and 10 who were referred to a community intervention program for committing a chargeable offense.
(Return to Program Resources)