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Patterns and Precursors of Teenage Antisocial Behaviour


A typology approach emphasises differences in the timing and frequency of antisocial behaviours. ... At what age/stage of development do differences between ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Patterns and Precursors of Teenage Antisocial Behaviour

Patterns and Precursors ofTeenage Antisocial
Diana Smart Australian Institute of Family
Studies Suzanne Vassallo Australian Institute
of Family Studies Ann Sanson Australian
Institute of Family Studies Inez Dussuyer Crime
Prevention Victoria Presented at 16th Australian
and New Zealand Society of Criminology
Conference, Brisbane, 1-3 October, 2002
Australian Institute of Family Studies
Teenage Antisocial Behaviour
  • Models of antisocial behaviour describe
    developmental pathways
  • A typology approach emphasises differences in the
    timing and frequency of antisocial behaviours. A
    prominent distinction is between
  • experimenters and persisters
  • Previous research
  • - cross-sectional/ restricted age-spans
  • - conducted in other countries
  • - employed disadvantaged samples
  • - focused on males

Questions Addressed
  • At what age/stage of development do differences
    between persistent, experimental and low/no
    antisocial groups first emerge?
  • In what domains of functioning do these
    differences appear?
  • Are there differences between males and females?

The Australian Temperament Project
  • A longitudinal study of childrens development
    from infancy onwards
  • Representative sample of over 2400 children and
    families from urban and rural areas of Victoria
  • 12 waves of data since 1983 collected at 1-2
    yearly intervals by mail surveys
  • Domains assessed temperament, behaviour
    problems, school adjustment, health, social
    competence, family functioning, peer
    relationships, parenting style and family
    environment, substance use and antisocial

Frequency of Antisocial Acts
  • 10-20 of participants reported engaging in
    property offences (e.g theft, vandalism)
  • Cigarette and alcohol use were also common (39
    and 85 respectively at 17-18 years)
  • Authority conflict problems and violent
    antisocial acts were much less common, with the
    exception of skipping school (43 at 17-18 years)
    and involvement in physical fights (approximately
    1/3 at 13-14 and 15-16 years)
  • About one-in-ten participants had been in contact
    with the police for offending. However, very few
    had been charged (2-3), appeared in court (1),
    or been convicted of an offence (lt1)

  • High antisocial behaviour 3 of the
    following behaviours on at least one occasion
    during the past 12 months
  • been in physical fights with others
  • damaged something in a public place on purpose
  • stolen something (from a person or a house)
  • driven a car without permission
  • been suspended or expelled from school
  • engaged in graffiti in public places
  • carried a weapon (for example, gun, knife)
  • shoplifted
  • run away from home and stayed away overnight or
  • sold illegal drugs
  • attacked someone with the idea of seriously
    harming them
  • used marijuana (within the past month)
  • used hard drugs e.g. amphetamines, cocaine,
    designer drugs or opiates (within the past

Formation of Groups
  • Examined patterns of antisocial behaviour over
    three timepoints (13-14, 15-16, 17-18 years)
  • Identified 3 groups-
  • (1) Low/non antisocial group (n844, 40.9
  • ? low levels of antisocial behaviour (lt3) at all
    three timepoints.
  • (2) Experimental group (n88, 43.2 male)
  • ? high levels of antisocial behaviour (3) at
    only one timepoint in early to mid adolescence.
  • (3) Persistent group (n131, 64.9 male)
  • ? high levels of antisocial behaviour (3) at
    two or more timepoints.

Firstly, when did group differences emerge?
  • As the next slide shows pictorially,
  • There were no differences in the earliest years
    of life (from infancy until 3-4 years).
  • Differences between the persistent and low/non
    antisocial groups were found from 5-6 years
  • The experimental and low/non antisocial groups
    did not differ significantly until the beginning
    of secondary school, in early adolescence.
  • Group differences were most powerful during
    adolescence. The peak age at which differences
    were most frequent and powerful was 15-16 years.
  • Towards the end of adolescence, the pattern
    appeared to change, with the experimental group
    becoming more similar to the low/non antisocial

Group Differences Over Time
Differences between groups across domains of
  • Separate Multivariate Analyses of Variance were
    used to compare the groups at each data
    collection wave and for each source of report
    (parent, teacher, or child/teen). This strategy
    enabled us to pinpoint the age and stage of
    development at which significant group
    differences first began to emerge. We also used
    effect sizes to assess the strength of group
    differences across the various domains.
  • The following slides show the domains of
    functioning on which group differences were
    found. For readability, we have grouped together
    aspects that were assessed over multiple
    timepoints and sources of report. Colour coding
    is used to increase interpretability. Differing
    backgrounds are used to separate different
    aspects of functioning, and effect sizes are
    colour coded so that small effects are shown in
    dark blue, medium effects in purple, and large
    effects in red. For some variables, there were
    significant differences which were weaker than a
    small effect, and these are shown in grey.

Temperament / Personality Style
Behaviour Problems
Social Skills
School Adjustment
Peer Relationships
Family Relationships
Civic Mindedness
Coping Strategies
Future Orientation
Gender Differences
  • Analyses revealed a similar, although weaker,
    pattern of results

Conclusions and Implications
  • Some engagement in teenage antisocial behaviour
    is normal
  • Early intervention aimed at diverting children
    from pathways to persistent antisocial behaviour
    appears most appropriate during the primary
    school years
  • Persistent antisocial youth exhibit a clear
  • Interventions targeting experimental antisocial
    behaviour should be multi-faceted and focus on
    the early secondary school years.

Conclusions and Implications (cont.)
  • Precursors of antisocial behaviour were similar
    for males and females
  • Peer relationships, especially associations with
    other antisocial youth, were a powerful influence
  • The role of family environment, especially
    parent-child relationship and parenting style
  • The role of school adjustment - low attachment to
    school a prominent risk