Kids from juvenile justice system 7 times more likely to commit criminal acts

Nov 18, 2008

A new study shows that juvenile delinquents sentenced to either a juvenile retreat, probation or unsupervised community service were seven times more likely to commit criminal acts as adults than youngsters from the control group who managed to avoid the juvenile justice system.

The findings come from Frank Vitaro, a psycho-education professor at the Université de Montréal and researcher at the Research Unit on Children's Psycho-Social Maladjustment, who collaborated with UdeM colleague Richard Tremblay as well as Uberto Gatti of the Université de Gènes. They compared kids who went through the juvenile justice system with a control group that had similar behavioural and socioeconomic conditions.

They analyzed the cases of 779 francophone, underprivileged Quebecers between kindergarten and age 25. They found 113 youngsters out of the 779 were subjected to judicial intervention between the ages of 12 and 17. To evaluate this impact on their behaviour into adulthood several factors were measured and controlled: verbal ability, impulsiveness and hyperactivity, premature delinquency, family structure, family revenue, parental supervision and the delinquency level of their peers.

The study showed that kids who went through the system were seven times more likely to commit criminal acts as adults that correlated with the severity of their sentence. For instance, for the least severe sentence (community service) the risk of relapse is 2.3 percent. However, for the most severe sentence (juvenile retreat) the risk of relapse is 38 percent.

The best way to intervene, according to Vitaro, "is to establish prevention practices using early screening methods." Several factors can help identify children at risk: young parents, anti-sociability of parents, lack of support, aggressiveness of the child and family setting.

Screening programs must be consistent and permanent support should be provided to select youngsters. "Studies show that prevention programs can help reduce criminality by as much as 50 percent," says Vitaro.

Kids from juvenile justice system seven times more likely to commit criminal acts Université de Montréal Professor Frank Vitaro correlates severity of sentences with likelihood of relapse

A new study shows that juvenile delinquents sentenced to either a juvenile retreat, probation or unsupervised community service were seven times more likely to commit criminal acts as adults than youngsters from the control group who managed to avoid the juvenile justice system.

The findings come from Frank Vitaro, a psycho-education professor at the Université de Montréal and researcher at the Research Unit on Children's Psycho-Social Maladjustment, who collaborated with UdeM colleague Richard Tremblay as well as Uberto Gatti of the Université de Gènes. They compared kids who went through the juvenile justice system with a control group that had similar behavioural and socioeconomic conditions.

They analyzed the cases of 779 francophone, underprivileged Quebecers between kindergarten and age 25. They found 113 youngsters out of the 779 were subjected to judicial intervention between the ages of 12 and 17. To evaluate this impact on their behaviour into adulthood several factors were measured and controlled: verbal ability, impulsiveness and hyperactivity, premature delinquency, family structure, family revenue, parental supervision and the delinquency level of their peers.

The study showed that kids who went through the system were seven times more likely to commit criminal acts as adults that correlated with the severity of their sentence. For instance, for the least severe sentence (community service) the risk of relapse is 2.3 percent. However, for the most severe sentence (juvenile retreat) the risk of relapse is 38 percent.

The best way to intervene, according to Vitaro, "is to establish prevention practices using early screening methods." Several factors can help identify children at risk: young parents, anti-sociability of parents, lack of support, aggressiveness of the child and family setting.

Screening programs must be consistent and permanent support should be provided to select youngsters. "Studies show that prevention programs can help reduce criminality by as much as 50 percent," says Vitaro.

Source: University of Montreal

Explore further: Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Revisiting ADHD and Ritalin

May 17, 2011

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a pediatrician from Walnut Creek, Calif., ignited a national debate over the steep rise in children being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and treated with ...

Recommended for you

Our brains are hardwired for language

6 hours ago

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language univer ...

Child burn effects far reaching for parents

11 hours ago

Parents of burn victims experience significant psychological distress for at least three months after the incident and may compromise the post-operative recovery of their child, WA research has found.

Internet use may cut retirees' depression

11 hours ago

Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences an ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...