Social stress and the gene–environment influences on crime and delinquency

Authored by: D. Anne Winiarski , Erica L. Smearman , Patricia A. Brennan

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


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Individuals who engage in criminal and delinquent behavior incur substantial financial and social burdens to the public. Adolescents who engage in delinquent behaviors have a higher risk of adverse consequences at both individual and societal levels, including strained interpersonal relationships with one’s family and community (Zigler et al., 1992), poor academic performance (Hinshaw, 1992), and an increased risk of co-morbid mental health problems (Barrett and Katsiyannis, 2009). From a financial standpoint, each child diagnosed with conduct problems costs society about $70,000 over a 7-year period (Foster and Jones, 2005). Reducing the number of individuals in prison could save state governments about $7.6 billion and the federal government about $7.2 billion annually (Schmitt et al., 2010). Before researchers, clinicians, and policy-makers can begin designing effective interventions to target those at risk for engaging in delinquent and criminal behaviors, we must first come to a consensus about the kinds of factors that interact to shape their development.

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