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When the course of aggressive behavior in childhood does not predict antisocial outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood: An examination of potential explanatory variables



Theoretical models and empirical studies suggest that there are a number of distinct pathways of aggressive behavior development in childhood that place youth at risk for antisocial outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood. The prediction of later antisocial behavior based on these early pathways, although substantial, is not perfect. The goal of the present study was to identify factors that explain why some boys on a high-risk developmental trajectory in middle childhood do not experience an untoward outcome, and, conversely, why some boys progressing on a low-risk trajectory do become involved in later antisocial behavior. To that end, we explored a set of theoretically derived predictors measured at entrance to elementary and middle school and examined their utility in explaining discordant cases. First-grade reading achievement, race, and poverty status proved to be significant early predictors of discordance, whereas the significant middle-school predictors were parent monitoring, deviant peer affiliation, and neighborhood level of deviant behavior.This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health (RO1 MH42968 to Sheppard G. Kellam, PI, and T-32 MH18834 to Nick Ialongo, PI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49/CCR318627-03). We thank the Baltimore City Public Schools for their continuing collaborative efforts and the parents, children, teachers, principals, and school psychologists and social workers who participated.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Hanno Petras, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205; E-mail:


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