Identifying children at risk of offending

Risk factors that highlight the chances of children becoming
involved in crime or antisocial behaviour vary with age group,
researchers have found. For children aged between six and 11,
committing an offence appears to be the best predictor of future
delinquency while the strongest predictors for young people aged 12
to 14 are a lack of social ties and association with antisocial

The research, carried out by the Newcastle Centre for Family
Studies, is highlighted in a Department for Education and Skills
briefing and reference manual designed to help practitioners spot
families with children at risk of offending and intervene to reduce
those risks.  

According to the authors, the existence of one or more risk
factors in a child’s life is not a good predictor of outcomes
because children vary in how they respond to risk. However, where
multiple risk factors exist there is a greater chance of poor

Researchers found that most children with identifiable risk
factors do not engage in crime or antisocial behaviour. Even those
living in challenging circumstances can develop resilience
depending on the complicated interplay between risk and protective

Children with a stronger sense of attachment to other people, a
more positive outlook on life, more plans for the future and more
control over their lives are more likely to show resilience. 

The research brief, Offenders of the Future? Assessing the Risk
of Children Becoming Involved in Crime and Antisocial Behaviour,
can be downloaded from

Copies of the manual (RR545) priced £4.95 are available
from DFES Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley,
Nottingham NG15 0DG.

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