Early dispositional risks for conduct problems and gene–environment interplay

Authored by: Christopher J. Trentacosta , Benjamin D. Goodlett

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749

10.4324/9781315858449.ch28

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Abstract

Crime is tremendously costly to victims and to society, and involvement in serious crime is frequently rooted in individual traits and behaviors that emerge and become entrenched in the early years of life. For example, although physical aggression is relatively normative during the toddler years (Tremblay et al., 1999), a nontrivial percentage of children (in the range of roughly 3 to 10 percent across several samples) exhibit chronic physical aggression across childhood and into adolescence (Nagin and Tremblay, 1999; Broidy et al., 2003). This subset of children, typically referred to as “early-onset” (Patterson et al., 1998) or “life-course persistent” (Moffitt, 1993), are at elevated risk for serious conduct problems and criminal misconduct in adolescence and adulthood (Moffitt et al., 2002). Aspects of this developmental taxonomy have been called into question because “adolescence-onset” antisocial behavior is more similar to “life-course persistent” antisocial behavior than the taxonomy originally suggested (Fairchild et al., 2013). Nonetheless, it is clear that young children exhibiting early-emerging conduct problems are especially likely to engage in criminal behaviors later in adolescence and adulthood. Therefore it is crucial to investigate the early-life traits and behavioral patterns that predispose young children to serious conduct problems and increase the likelihood that they will follow a trajectory toward criminal involvement.

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