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.
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