Risk factors for self-reported delinquency in emerging adulthood

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The goal of this study is to examine risk factors for delinquency in emerging adulthood, highlighting any differences between those generally found for adolescent delinquent behaviour. The importance of examining risk factors for this age group is discussed, given recent changes in the nature of the early adult years, and the fact that, although the majority of adolescent offenders desist during adulthood, there remain a high number of offenders in the early adult years. Risk effects for self-reported delinquency were examined in a general population sample of emerging adults (age 18–24). A range of risk factor measures, such as peer delinquency, need for autonomy, parental support and substance use, were used to predict reporting of at least one arrestable offence in a six-month period beginning a year later. In the full model, parental social support, alcohol use and a measure of self-control, aggression and criminal attitude all significantly predicted delinquency. We conclude that a good relationship with parents continues to be an important protective factor and that alcohol use continues to indicate problems with delinquency during emerging adulthood, similarly to during adolescence. These two factors are discussed as being suitable issues for interventions. We also discuss the theoretical implications of our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-566
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • alcohol use
  • delinquency
  • emerging adulthood
  • parental support
  • risk factors


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