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Male and female offending trajectories

  • DAVID M. FERGUSSON (a1) and L. JOHN HORWOOD (a1)

Abstract

This paper uses a latent class modeling approach to examine gender related variations in offending trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood. This approach is applied to data gathered over the course of a longitudinal study of 896 New Zealand children studied from birth to age 21 years. The analysis identified five trajectory groups: a group of low-risk offenders, three groups of adolescent-limited offenders who varied in the timing of the onset of offending (early, intermediate, and late onset), and a group of chronic offenders. Identical offending trajectories applied for males and females. However, probabilities of trajectory group membership varied with gender, with females being more likely to exhibit low-risk or early onset adolescent-limited offending and males later onset and chronic offending. Examination of social, family, and individual factors associated with these trajectories suggested the presence of a series of common etiological factors relating to family functioning and early adjustment that discriminated between trajectory groups. These risk factors appeared to operate in a similar fashion for both males and females. Implications of these findings for trajectory theories of offending are discussed.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Prof. David Fergusson, Christchurch Health and Development Study, Christchurch School of Medicine, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand; E-mail: david.fergusson@chmeds.ac.nz.

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