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Risk Factors Causing Higher Probability for Youth Crime Behavior

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Risk variables for criminality are not inactive as their prescient value changes depending on when happens in a youth’s development and environment, in their social setting and beneath what circumstances. Risk factors may be found within the person, the environment, or the individual's capacity to reply to the requests or necessities of their environment. A few variables come into play during childhood or prior, while others don't show up until puberty. Some variables include the family, the neighborhood, the school and the peer group with some that end up less imperative as an individual develops, whereas others continue all throughout the life span. Tremendous amounts of psychological research exists on the proven risk factors that increase the risk of criminality within youth.

Quantitative research conducted by Henry et al. (2012) in the United States investigated the risk factors for youth violence. The study was conducted as a portion of a multisite exertion to look at hazards and coordinate defensive variables for youth violence. Henry et al (2012) recruited 4432 middle-school youth (sixth to eighth grade), from the Center for Disease Control’s Multisite Violence Prevention Project (an intervention program for high-risk children to reduce violent and criminal behaviors) and were tested for factors that included depression, delinquency, alcohol and drug involvement, involvement in family activities, academic achievement, attitudes toward school, truancy, and peer deviance (Henry et al, 2012). Researchers utilized multiple measures to analyze the predicted variables which included the Problem Behavior Frequency Scale, Parenting Practices Scale, Behavioral Assessment System for Children, Life Satisfaction Scale and the teacher BASC.

Regression and ANOVA results yielded 44.13% reported fighting or violence at either the seventh or eighth grade, 46% of the sample reported delinquent involvement, 24.4% reported drug and alcohol use, 59.4% indicated that were not involved in family activities, 70.48% had low academic achievement, 39.77% responded that their close friends were engaged in delinquent behavior and 28% experienced symptoms of depression near the eighth grade (Henry et al., 2012). Henry et al. (2012) implied that the study shows how individual, school, and peer components account for critical violent behavior due to individual misconduct, attention issues, poor study abilities and alcohol/drug use, which all increment the risk for violence. Negative attitudes toward school and delinquent behavior of peers moreover contribute to risk for criminality.

Hilterman et al. (2016) in the United States conducted quantitative research on identifying risk areas for male and female juvenile offenders. With 3130 male and 466 female juvenile offenders, the researchers implemented a 30-item structured assessment of the risk for violence in youth (SAVRY) that is divided into ten historical risk factors, six social/contextual risk factors, eight individual risk factors and six protective factors (Hilterman et al., 2016). Results identified five factors; factor one was antisocial behavior in which 43% of males and 35% of females engaged in antisocial behavior, male juvenile offenders scored higher in the item history of suicide attempts, in contrast for female juvenile offenders where self-harm was more prominent (Hilterman et al., 2016). In relation to antisocial behavior, males scored higher in the item history of substance use whereas females scored higher in the items of poor school achievement and community disorganization (Hilterman et al., 2016).

Factor two was family functioning in which 56% of male offenders and 60% of female offenders scored high in the item of poor parental management. Factor three was personality in which 56% of male offenders and 55% female offenders scored high on items of peer rejection, stress and poor coping. Factor four was social support in which 47% of female offenders and 34% of male offenders scored low on strong social support and strong attachments and bonds. Factor five was treatability in with 64% of males and 57% of females scored low on the items of strong commitment to school, resilient personality traits, positive attitudes towards authority and prosocial involvement.

Longitudinal research in the United States by De Sanctis et al. (2012) investigated the independent predictors for criminal outcomes in youth with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Researchers specifically assessed the effect of moderate to severe childhood maltreatment on later criminality among youth diagnosed with ADHD in childhood (De Sanctis et al., 2012). With 88 participants diagnosed with ADHD whom were screened for maltreatment histories at age ten, detailed juvenile criminal records were obtained three years after commencement of the follow-up study. Through regression analyses, results showed that moderate to severe childhood maltreatment increased the risk of youth arrest (De Sanctis et al., 2012). Further, youth with ADHD who were classified as maltreated were three and a half times more likely to be arrested when compared to youth without ADHD and without a maltreatment classification (De Sanctis et al., 2012).

DeGue and Widom (2009) in the United states examined if out-of-home placement (occurs when children must be removed from their homes) leads to adult criminality. Through longitudinal research, 772 children with substantiated histories of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect prior to age 17 participated in the study. DeGue and Widom (2009) then collected criminal records when the youth turned 31 years old. Through chi-square analysis, results showed that out-of-home placement caused a positive effect on adult criminality compared to no out-of-home placement (DeGue and Widom, 2009). Results also found that gender and not race was a significant moderator between the relationship of out-of-home placement and adult criminality, as there were different patterns of response to out-of-home placement by males and females (DeGue and Widom, 2009).

Quantitative research by Chan and Chui (2013) investigated if school bullying and peer victimization causes deviant behavior in youth. They recruited 365 male students between ages ten and 17 and assessed their bullying behaviors, social bonds and peer victimization with the University of Illinois Bully Scale and Victimization Scale and Chapple et al.’s Social Bonding Scale (Chan and Chui, 2013). Results presented that school bullying behaviors were positively related to theft and violent delinquency (Chan and Chui, 2013). Results also showed through multivariate analyses that with an increase in age and organizational involvement, but a decrease in educational commitment and belief in the legal system are likely to increase the tendency to engage in school bullying (Chan and Chui, 2013).

Cross-cultural research conducted by Greenberger et al. (2000) in the United Kingdom studied if three different social contexts had a different effect on predicting youth misconduct. Participants consisted of 201 16 to 17-year old’s in Los Angeles, 391 in Korea and 502 in China (Greenberger et al., 2000). Results depicted that the youths from Los Angeles engaged in more misconduct than Korean and Chinese youths, with multivariate analyses, perceived behavior and sanctions of close friends were the strongest predictors of misconduct across all three cultural settings (Greenberger et al., 2000). Greenberger et al. ‘s (2000) study suggests that living in settings that have closer links to the global economy is associated with lower misconduct and the perception of less lenient attitudes toward youth misbehavior (Greenberger et al., 2000).

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Aebi et al. (2014) in Switzerland investigated if low socioeconomic status (SES) predicted criminal behavior in 1086 youth aged 12 to 17. Through regressions, results showed that presence of criminal convictions was predicted by low SES (Aebi et al., 2014).


Parenting practices are among the strongest predictors of juvenile delinquency identified in the criminological literature and have been intimately connected to youth offending (Schroeder et al., 2010). Diana Baumrind (1971) has identified three different styles of parenting; authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive and has noted that some are far more effective than others. Authoritative parenting is high in both demandingness and responsiveness (Baumrind, 1971). Thus, the parents monitor and discipline their children fairly, while being very supportive at the same time. This is generally considered the best environment in which to rear children.

Authoritarian parents are high in demandingness and low in responsiveness (Baumrind, 1971). Authoritarian parents are often strict and, in some families, unfair in punishing their children. They are often described as cold and unemotional. Depending on cultural context, rigid discipline can be harmful to a child as he or she is maturing. The third style, permissive parenting, is low in demandingness and high in responsiveness (Baumrind, 1971). Permissive parents do not impose rules on their children; their children can do what they want and when they want. Permissive parents can either be supportive or not care about their children. This style of parenting can also be harmful to a developing child.

Child rearing styles are moreover strongly connected with adolescent misconduct. Although there is a large gap in the literature as there is not enough research done on one particular style of child rearing that tends to anticipate or cause youth involvement in crime, the current study will fulfill this gap. Minimally, existing research already proposes that an authoritative child rearing fashion significantly diminishes occasions of youth criminality. On the other hand, authoritarian and permissive child rearing shows a distinct positive relationship with criminal behavior in adolescence and further in adulthood.

Longitudinal research by Schroeder et al. (2010) in the United States examined the relationship between parenting styles and youth criminality in connections to race. Prior collected data of 942 black and white youths incarcerated at age 15, was analyzed again at age 21 by Schroeder et al. (2010). The prior collected data consisted of answers to measures assessing the social bonds and emotional self-concepts of the youth. Results showed that parenting styles high and low in demandingness (authoritarian and permissive) had a significantly positive effect on criminal offending among the black sample, but not among the white sample (Schroeder et al., 2010). Furthermore, negative emotions and anger were found to mediate the relationship between uninvolved parenting and youth criminality among both the black and white samples (Schroeder et al., 2010).

Quantitative research conducted by Chipman et al. (2000) in the United States prepared questionnaires for 128 male and female youth offenders that assessed retrospective perceptions of their parents authoritative, authoritarian or permissive parenting styles (Chipman et al., 2000). Through univariate analyses, results showed that 72.2% of youth offenders who received less authoritative parenting and more permissive parenting were engaged in criminal behaviors by age 15 (Chipman et al., 2000). Further, 85.6% of youth offenders indicated their parents depicted an authoritarian or permissive parenting style which led to more involvement in criminal activities based on retaliation and anger (Chipman et al., 2000).

Lamborn et al. (1991) found that adolescents who characterized their parents as authoritative reported “significantly higher academic competence, lower levels of problem behavior, and higher levels of psycho-social development”, adolescents raised in authoritarian homes were similar to those in authoritative homes, however, they did not show as much 'self-reliance and social competence (Lamborn et al., 1991).' Finally, adolescents raised in permissive homes reported the lowest levels in all categories (Lamborn et al., 1991).

Loeber and Stouthamer (1986) found similar results in their study. They listed parental characteristics associated with children developing antisocial personality, which is associated with problem behavior. They identified lack of supervision, no discipline, lack of emotional support, and rejection as the most significant factors in predicting delinquency in adolescents (Loeber & Stouthamer, 1986). Loeber and Stouthamer (1986) concluded their study by implying that a lack of emotional support and rejection are characteristics of an authoritarian parenting style and a lack of supervision and discipline are indicators for a permissive parenting style; both would be harmful to a child growing up in that environment, producing further risk for involvement in criminal activities.

Quantitative research conducted by Chambers et al. (2001) found that high parental control, such as in an authoritarian parenting styles, leads to a faster first arrest. They also discovered that low parenting care, such as in a permissive parenting styles, is related to high levels of distress in adolescents. Further, Dornbusch et al. (1990) found that when parents keep an eye on their children and are genuinely interested in what their children are involved in, their grades are better. These parental behaviors are characteristic of the authoritative parenting style.

Therefore, it can be assumed that the opposite may be true for permissive and authoritarian parenting. It would be possible to predict more school problems and adolescent misconduct among children whose parents do not monitor where they are, as well as do not pay attention to their school performance, as indicated in permissive parenting, or do not offer any sort of support, guidance, encouragement and self-confidence but still demand high expectations, as indicated in authoritarian parenting.

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