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Problem behavior as a precursor of male criminality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2009

Minna Hämäläinen*
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Lea Pulkkinen
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Minna Hämäläinen, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, 40351 Jyväskylä, Finland.


The participants (originally 196 boys and 173 girls) in an ongoing longitudinal study were examined using peer nomination and teacher rating at ages 8 and 14 years. Criminal records were collected at age 27 years. The results showed that (a) criminal offenses were best predicted if the accumulation of behavior problems over the school years was considered; (b) the risk for different types of offenses was highest for boys who exhibited escalating conduct problems and school failure over the school years; (c) norm-breaking behavior in early adolescence was strongly related to a propensity to later criminal offenses; (d) childhood aggressiveness did not predict arrests without the presence of other problems. When followed by norm-breaking in early adolescence, it predicted violent offenses, and when followed by poor school success, it predicted property offenses; (e) interestingly, low prosociality turned out to have a significant independent relationship to arrests; and (f) the distinction between an early-onset path and a late-onset path proved to be valid.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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