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Juvenile recidivism: Criminal propensity, social control and social learning theories
Psychiatry, psychology and law (2004)
  • Bruce Watt
  • Kevin Howells
  • Paul Delfabbro

Juvenile delinquency is a common precursor to persistent and serious criminal behavior in adulthood. However, many young offenders will cease offending by early adulthood. Identification of the causal factors that contribute to persistence and relinquishment in offending behavior is essential for reducing future criminality. Risk assessment research with juvenile offenders identifies a range of significant individual and contextual factors that predict future delinquency. However, much of the research has been conducted without clear theoretical direction. Theoretical bases for risk prediction are essential in the development of effective assessment processes that accurately guide interventions with young offenders. This article reviews previous prediction studies of juvenile recidivism within the framework of criminal propensity, social control and social learning theories. The key variables for criminal propensity were age of onset, criminal history and various measures of self-control; for social control, family cohesion and academic achievement; and for social learning theory, antisocial attitudes and association with deviant peers were consistent predictors of recidivism. Such factors appear critical in assessment and treatment with young offenders.

© Copyright Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 2004

  • juvenile recidivism,
  • social learning theories,
  • social control
Publication Date
March 1, 2004
Citation Information
Bruce Watt, Kevin Howells and Paul Delfabbro. "Juvenile recidivism: Criminal propensity, social control and social learning theories" Psychiatry, psychology and law Vol. 11 Iss. 1 (2004)
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