Propensity-Induced, Life-Style Dependent and Situationally Limited Adolescent Offenders: Exploring the Interaction Effects Between Individual Risk, Life-Style Risk and Neighbourhood Risk

Per-Olof H. Wikstrom, Cambridge University

The staring point for this paper is the familiar finding from longitudinal criminological research of two main groups of offenders (for example, as labelled by Moffitt; life-course persiters and adolescent-limited offenders). The study (which is cross-sectional) focuses on exploring the relationship between individual-risk protective characteristics, life-style risk and neighbourhood risk in adolescence. The main aim is to study the potential interaction between individual characteristics and social contexts (as represented by life-style and neighbourhoods). The data used are from a survey of about 2000 adolescents in the city of Peterborough in the United Kingdom. The findings show a strong interaction effect between individual risk-protective characteristics and life-style risk in explaining adolescent offending. The form of the interaction is analysed and three different groups of adolescent offenders are suggested: propensity-induced, life-style dependent and situationally-limited offenders. The key argument of the paper is that life-style as a risk factor for offending operates differently for different groups of adolescents classified by their risk-protective characteristics. Implications for theory and prevention are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006