Cernkovich - Predicting Adolescent and Adult Antisocial...

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Predicting Adolescent and Adult Antisocial Behavior Among Adjudicated Delinquent Females Stephen A. Cernkovich Bowling Green State University, OH Nadine Lanctôt Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada Peggy C. Giordano Bowling Green State University, OH Studies identifying the mechanisms underlying the causes and consequences of antisocial behavior among female delinquents as they transit to adulthood are scarce and have important limitations: Most are based on official statistics, they typically are restricted to normative samples, and rarely do they gather prospec- tive data from samples of high-risk females. By contrast, this research is based on a longitudinal sample of females who were interviewed initially in 1982 ( n = 127) when they were institutionalized adolescent offenders, and subse- quently as young adults in 1995 ( n = 109). Our analyses, focusing on the impact of a variety of family factors derived from social control and strain theory, show that physical and sexual abuse during childhood and adolescence are potent predictors of adult criminality, though not of adolescent delinquency. The implications of the long-term negative impact of childhood and adolescent abuse are discussed, and concrete policy recommendations offered. Keywords: female crime and delinquency; life course; physical abuse; sexual abuse; family relationships A ntisocial behavior tends to be defined and measured differently by criminologists, developmental and social psychologists, and psychia- trists. Each discipline also tends to focus on specific populations and on Crime & Delinquency Volume 54 Number 1 January 2008 3-33 © 2008 Sage Publications 10.1177/0011128706294395 http://cad.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com 3
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Despite these different definitions, research strategies, and foci, studies consistently report that males are more antisocial than females (e.g., Cernkovich & Giordano, 1979, 2001; Moffitt et al., 2001). More specifi- cally, studies conducted by criminologists reveal that official female crimi- nality, as well as self-reported delinquency, is less serious, begins later in adolescence, and is less persistent than male criminality and delinquency (Cernkovich & Giordano, 1979; Lanctôt & LeBlanc, 2002; McCord, 1993; Steffensmeier & Streifel, 1993). This gender difference in antisocial behav- ior is an accepted fact in criminology and it is clear that the gap is largest for serious offenses (Cernkovich & Giordano, 1979; example, a recent study based on official statistics, victimization surveys, and self-reported delinquency shows a small gender gap for minor acts of violence as compared to a larger gap for more serious forms of violence, such as aggravated assault (Steffensmeier et al., 2005). Although a detailed description of the nature and extent of female antisocial behavior is beyond
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Cernkovich - Predicting Adolescent and Adult Antisocial...

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