Patterns and precursors of adolescent antisocial behaviour: Outcomes and connections

Patterns and precursors of adolescent antisocial behaviour: Outcomes and connections

Diana Smart, Nicholas Richardson, Ann Sanson, Inez Dussuyer, Bernie Marshall, John Toumbourou, Margot Prior and Frank Oberklaid

ATP Report— November 2005
Patterns and precursors of adolescent antisocial behaviour: Outcomes and connections

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Minister's foreword

Victoria is one of the best places to raise a family because we have some of the safest homes, streets and neighbourhoods in the nation.

Early intervention is important. Experts from around the world agree that keeping young people out of trouble from an early age is the best way to help them stay on track. This is why I applaud the work of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria for their work on the series Patterns and Precursors of Adolescent Antisocial Behaviour.

The third and final report looks at the common risk factors between young people who engage in criminal and anti-social behaviour. This report builds on the work of two previous reports, and follows more than 2000 Victorian children and their families from infancy to adulthood.

By looking at the environmental and social factors that children and families are exposed to, this study identifies patterns and behaviours that could point towards the need for early intervention strategies.

It is aimed at developing a better understanding of antisocial and criminal behaviour in young people. By identifying problems early we can prevent children from heading down the wrong path.

I congratulate both the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria on delivering this innovative research project with sound, empirically-based evidence to guide future prevention and early intervention efforts.

Tim Holding MP
Minister for Police & Emergency Services

Director's foreword

Adolescent antisocial behaviour greatly concerns governments, researchers, and community members alike. Although this issue has been the focus of intensive research over recent decades, many questions regarding the development and consequences of this type of behaviour remain to be answered. Effective prevention and early intervention efforts to avert the onset of antisocial behaviour among children and adolescents rely to a large extent on an accurate understanding of its origins and course. Thus the research contained in this report is particularly welcome.

The report "Patterns and Precursors of Adolescent Antisocial Behaviour: Outcomes and Connections – Third Report" continues the valuable work of the first two reports in this series, and marks the culmination of the collaboration between the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria. It makes use of the Australian Temperament Project dataset to investigate six distinct topics relating to adolescent antisocial behaviour. This large longitudinal, community study has followed children's development over the first 20 years of life, investigating their psychosocial adjustment and wellbeing, and the influence of family and wider environmental factors via 13 waves of data collected from a representative sample of 2,443 children and parents.

The six topics addressed in the Third Report are: the continuity of persistent adolescent antisocial behaviour into early adulthood; links between antisocial behaviour and victimisation during early adulthood; associations between adolescent substance use and antisocial behaviour; the development of persistent antisocial behaviour among low-risk children; connections between motivations to comply with the law, attitudes, and antisocial behaviour; and the correspondence between official records and self reports of offending and victimisation.

I highly commend this report, which contains important new knowledge about the development of antisocial behaviour among young Australians, and its impact upon their wellbeing and adjustment. I am confident that it will provide valuable insights for policy development and practical interventions, and add substantially to our knowledge of this type of behaviour. Ultimately, through the understandings gained by research such as this, we will be able to help children to make the best start in life and promote their later positive development within the context of their family and community life.

Professor Alan Hayes
Australian Institute of Family Studies

Authors and Acknowledgements

The authors of the report would like to express their appreciation for the support and guidance given by the Project Advisory Group established for this project. They gratefully acknowledge the valuable contribution of the members of this group, who are as follows:

  • Mr Michael Brown, Director, Community and Network Support, Australian Department of Family and Community Services
  • Dr Patricia Brown, Director, Children's Court Clinic
  • Mr Nigel D'Souza, Manager, Community Initiatives, Community Support Fund, Victorian Department for Victorian Communities
  • Ms Mary Gledhill, Policy and Program Advisor, Family and Community Support Branch, Victorian Department of Human Services
  • Inspector Bill Mathers, Manager, Youth Advisory Unit, Victoria Police
  • Ms Julie Millar, Senior Policy Officer, Student Welfare and Drug Education, Student Wellbeing Branch, Victorian Department of Education and Training
  • Mr John Prent, Manager, Research and Web Services, Community Care Division, Victorian Department of Human Services
  • Ms Uma Rao, Manager, Statistical Services Branch, Victoria Police
  • Mr Stuart Ross, Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Sheldon Rothman, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Council for Educational Research
  • Associate Professor John W. Toumbourou, Centre for Adolescent Health, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, and Murdoch Childrens Institute
  • Mr Peter Yewers, Manager, Student Welfare and Drug Education, Student Wellbeing Branch, Department of Education and Training

The authors sincerely thank the parents, young people and teachers who have participated in the Australian Temperament Project. Without their loyalty and commitment to this project, this research would not have been possible.

Publication details

ATP Report
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, November 2005.
152 pp.

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