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Family Matters No. 68 - September 2004

At risk but not antisocial

Changes from childhood to adolescence
Suzanne Vassallo, Diana Smart, Ann Sanson and Inez Dussuyer

Abstract

While much is known about the risk factors associated with adolescent antisocial behaviour, less is known about the factors that might promote resilience against this outcome. This article explores this issue, drawing on data from the Australian Temperament Project analysed as part of a collaborative project between the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria. Two main questions are explored: Why do at-risk individuals differ in their susceptibility to antisocial behaviour? What individual, familial or environmental strengths help some vulnerable individuals to withstand risk and avoid progressing to antisocial behaviour? Amongst the findings are the salience of the early adolescent years; the powerful influence of peer relationships; importance of parenting and the family environment; and influence of school attachment and adjustment.

While much is known about the risk factors associated with adolescent antisocial behaviour, less is known about the factors that might promote resilience against this outcome. This article explores this issue, drawing on data from the Australian Temperament Project analysed as part of a collaborative project between the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria. Two main questions are explored: Why do at-risk individuals differ in their susceptibility to antisocial behaviour? What individual, familial or environmental strengths help some vulnerable individuals to withstand risk and avoid progressing to antisocial behaviour? Amongst the findings are the salience of the early adolescent years; the powerful influence of peer relationships; importance of parenting and the family environment; and influence of school attachment and adjustment.

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