Overcoming Risk for Delinquency: Recovery From the Life-Course-Persistent Trajectory at 14 Years

Tara Renae McGee, University of Queensland
Paul Mazerolle, The University of Queensland

Early onset of delinquency is associated with an increased likelihood of chronic, persistent and violent offending across the life course. Risk factors and theoretical pathways for this early delinquent onset are identifed in extant literture and have respectable support in the literature. Despite this, the fact remains that many individuals who exhibit an early onset of delinquency do not persist in offending over the life course, demonstrting resiliency in the presence of risk factors. This research attempts to establish which factors moderate this risk and whether resiliency among high-risk youth differs for males and females.

Moffitt's dual typology of life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial behaviour is examined using data from the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy (MUSP. This prospective longitudinal study has data on approximately 5200 mothers and their child spanning from pre-natal period to when the child was 14 years of age. Risk factors such as neuropsychological deficits at birth and during early development, aggression, parental monitoring, stability of the home environment, and socio-economic indicators are examined in an attempt to understand the 'spontaneous' recovery of those who exhibit resiliency in the face of risk. Implications for Moffitt's typologies and early/late starter theories are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006