MARBURG, Germany, July 24 (UPI) — Children who tangle with the law early in life do not necessarily become career criminals, researchers in Germany suggest.
Helmut Remschmidt and Reinhard Walter of Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, say the Marburg Child Delinquency Study is a longitudinal, observational study in which the authors investigated how often children who were registered by the police as committed criminal offenses before age 14, committed criminal offenses as adults.
A control group consisted of people who had not had been accused of any criminal offenses.
Remschmidt and Walter obtained data concerning the life history, family circumstances, health, schooling, vocational training and personality structure of 263 subjects age 18 or older.
The study, published in the Deutsches Arzteblatt International, finds the juvenile delinquents fall into two categories — those who become chronic offenders into adulthood, described as “persisters,” and those who are delinquent only in childhood and/or adolescence, but not in adulthood, described as “desisters.”
The researchers say social and familial risk factors were the best predictors of criminal behavior in adulthood, followed by some personality traits, such as emotional lability — emotional displays — and nervousness.
However, three risk factors seem to be specific for criminality — male sex, early onset of aggressiveness and the negative influence of delinquent peers.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.