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Disentangling the relationship between delinquency and hyperactivity, low achievement, depression, and low socioeconomic status: Analysis of repeated longitudinal data

Ivy N. Defoe, David P. Farrington & Rolf Loeber.

Journal of Criminal Justice; Available online 8 January 2013.

 

Abstract

Purpose

To test hypotheses about causal linkages among hyperactivity, low academic achievement, depression, low SES, and delinquency.

 

Methods

503 boys were followed up in the Pittsburgh Youth Study. Comparable measures of all variables at each age from 11 to 15 are analyzed. Cross-lagged panel models are tested.

 

Results

Hyperactivity, depression and achievement decreased with age, while SES and delinquency increased with age. The analyses suggest that hyperactivity and low SES caused low achievement, which in turn caused delinquency, which in turn caused depression.

 

Conclusions

Depression is not a risk factor for delinquency. These analyses should be repeated with larger numbers of variables. Developmental and life-course theories should propose and test sequential rather than simultaneous influences on offending. Since low achievement has the most direct influence on delinquency, interventions should target low achievement rather than hyperactivity or SES.

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