Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Desistance from persistent serious delinquency in the transition to adulthood

  • MAGDA STOUTHAMER–LOEBER (a1), EVELYN WEI (a1), ROLF LOEBER (a1) and ANN S. MASTEN (a2)
Abstract

Many delinquent youth stop offending sometime in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, little is known about individual differences in desistance and which factors promote or inhibit desistance. In the current study, young males in the oldest sample of the Pittsburgh Youth Study were followed from ages 13 to 25. About one-third became persistent serious delinquents between ages 13 and 19. Out of that group, almost 40% desisted in serious offending between ages 20 and 25. Significantly more of the desisters, compared to the persisters in serious delinquency, had been employed or in school. Bivariate analyses demonstrated many predictors of desistance of serious delinquency in early adulthood in the domains of individual, family, and peer factors measured from early adolescence onward. Multiple regression analyses showed that the following promotive factors were associated with desistance: low physical punishment by parents in early adolescence and being employed or in school in early adulthood. The following risk factors were inversely associated with desistance during early adulthood: serious delinquency during late adolescence, hard drug use, gang membership, and positive perception of problem behavior in early adulthood. The article discusses the implications of promotive and risk factors for preventive interventions.This article was prepared under Grant 96-MU-FX-0012 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Grant 050778 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice. We acknowledge Rebecca Stallings for assistance in preparing the data files. Our coauthor, Evelyn Wei, has unfortunately died in a car accident.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Magda Stouthamer–Loeber, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213; E-mail: stouthamerloeberm@msx.upmc.edu.
References
Hide All
Achenbach, T. M., & Edelbrock, C. S. (1979). The child behavior profile: II. Boys ages 12–16 and girls ages 6–11 and 12–16. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 47, 223233.

Akers, R. L. (1990). Rational choice, deterrence, and social learning in criminology: The path not taken. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 81, 653676.

Angold, A., Erkanli, A., Loeber, R., Costello, E. J., van Kammen, W., & Stouthamer–Loeber, M. (1996). Disappearing depression in a population of boys. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 4, 95104.

Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist 55, 469480.

Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., & Farrington, D. (1988). Criminal career research: Its value for criminology. Criminology 26, 135.

Bushway, S. D., Piquero, A. R., Broidy, L. M., Cauffman, E., & Mazerolle, P. (2001). An empirical framework for studying desistance as a process. Criminology 39, 491515.

Cicchetti, D., & Garmezy, N. (1993). Prospects and promises in the study of resilience [Editorial]. Development and Psychopathology 5, 497502.

Coleman, J. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94, 95120.

Costello, E. J., & Angold, A. (1988). Scales to assess child and adolescent depression—Checklists, screens, and nets. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 27, 726737.

Costello, E. J., Edelbrock, C., & Costello, A. J. (1985). The validity of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC): A comparison between pediatric and psychiatric referrals. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 13, 579595.

Edelbrock, C. S., & Achenbach, T. M. (1984). The teacher version of the Child Behavior Profile: I. Boys ages six through 11. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 52, 207217.

Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S., Murphy, B. C., & Guthrie, I. K. (1997). Contemporaneous and longitudinal prediction of children's social functioning from regulation and emotionality. Child Development 68, 642664.

Farrington, D. P., & Hawkins, J. D. (1991). Predicting participation, early onset, and later persistence in officially recorded offending. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health 1, 133.

Garmezy, N., Masten, A. S., & Tellegen, A. (1984). The study of stress and competence in children: A building block for developmental psychology. Child Development 55, 97111.

Laub, J. H., Nagin, D. S., & Sampson, R. J. (1998). Trajectories of change in criminal offending: Good marriages and the desistance process. American Sociological Review 63, 225238.

Loeber, R. (1982). The stability of antisocial and delinquent child behavior. Child Development 53, 14311146.

Loeber, R., Wung, P., Keenan, K., Giroux, B., Stouthamer–Loeber, M., & van Kammen, W.B. (1993). Developmental pathways in disruptive child behavior. Development and Psychopathology 5, 101132.

Luthar, S. S. (1993). Annotation: Methodological and conceptual issues in research on childhood resilience. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 34, 441453.

Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). Research on resilience: Response to commentaries. Child Development 71, 573575.

Lynam, D. R. (1997). Pursuing the psychopath: Capturing the fledgling psychopath in a nomological net. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 106, 425438.

Magdol, L., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., & Silva, P. A. (1998). Developmental antecedents of partner abuse: A prospective-longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 107, 375389.

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist 56, 227238.

Masten, A. S., Best, K. M., & Garmezy, N. (1990). Resilience and development: Contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology 2, 425444.

Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from successful children. American Psychologist 53, 205220.

Masten, A. S., Garmezy, N., Tellegen, A., Pellegrini, D. S., Larkin, K., & Larsen, A. (1988). Competence and stress in school children: The moderating effects of individual and family qualities. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 29, 745764.

Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-cycle-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review 100, 674701.

Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Harrington, H., & Milne, B. J. (2002). Males on the life-course-persistent and adolescent limited antisocial pathways: Follow-up at age 26 years. Development and Psychopathology 14, 179207.

Nagin, D., Farrington, D. P., & Moffitt, T. E. (1995). Life-course trajectories of different types of offenders. Criminology 33, 111139.

Roisman, G. I., Masten, A. S., Coatsworth, J. D., & Tellegen, A. (2004). Salient and emerging developmental tasks in the transition to adulthood. Child Development 75, 123133.

Rutter, M. (1985). Resilience in the face of adversity: Protective factors and resistance to psychiatric disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry 147, 598611.

Stouthamer–Loeber, M., Loeber, R., Farrington, D. P., Zhang, Q., van Kammen, W., & Maguin, E. (1993). The double edge of protective and risk factors for delinquency: Interrelations and developmental patterns. Development and Psychopathology 5, 683701.

Stouthamer–Loeber, M., Loeber, R., Wei, E., Farrington, D. P., & Wikstrom, P.-O. (2002). Risk and promotive effects in the explanation of persistent serious delinquency in boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 70, 111123.

Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Boney–McCoy, S., & Sugarman, D. B. (1996). The Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2). Journal of Family Issues 17, 283316.

Tolan, P. H. (1987). Implications of age of onset for delinquency risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 15, 4765.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 124 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 341 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.