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HomeReports → The young adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent antisocial behaviour : an Australian cohort

The young adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent antisocial behaviour : an Australian cohort


The patterns of offending behaviour in young people (adolescents and young adults) in Australia are problematic from a number of perspectives. First, young people are over-represented in official statistics. Second, serious offenders in adolescence progress on to adult crime, with a small number explaining a disproportionate number of crimes, which is consistent with international trends. Third, adolescent antisocial behaviour, whether breaking norms or serious assaults, is very common in Australian society. Fourth, antisocial behaviour whether from childhood or across all age groups is a significant economic drain on society. In the light of the extent and seriousness of antisocial behaviour in our community, this report focuses on one domain of the problem, the link between types of childhood and adolescent antisocial behaviour and young adult outcomes. The study examines childhood and adolescent antisocial behaviour and the extent to which the presence of antisocial behaviour in early childhood and adolescence influences a range of outcomes in early adulthood. Data is sourced from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy, which is a 21-year longitudinal investigation that began in 1981, during which assessments were conducted when the study children were six months, five years, 14 years, and 21 years old. The results suggest that individuals with persistent or adolescent onset antisocial behaviour have a range of serious problems in young adulthood. In contrast, with some few exceptions, individuals with childhood limited antisocial behaviour do not seem to have many adult problems. The findings imply the need for both early detection and intervention with those cases likely to continue into adolescence. In addition, severe adolescent antisocial behaviour needs vigorous intervention to prevent adult dysfunction. The report summarises a number of proven interventions for both groups and highlights a future research agenda.

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