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The impact of timing and frequency of parental criminal behaviour and risk factors on offspring offending

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This paper explores mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour by investigating specifically the timing and frequency of the parents' criminal behaviour while including risk factors for criminal behaviour. The results demonstrate a dose–response relationship: parents' number of criminal convictions is positively related to offspring's conviction rate. Furthermore, children whose parents had only been convicted before the child's birth have more convictions than those whose parents had never been convicted. Children whose parents had been convicted after the child's birth have more convictions than those whose parents had only been convicted before the child's birth, but this difference can be explained partly by the observation that the latter group had fewer risk factors for crime. When parental convictions at different ages were examined, children whose parents had been convicted between their 7th and 13th birthdays exhibit more criminal behaviour than children whose parents were convicted in other periods, but none of the differences were significant. There does not appear to be a sensitive period for the impact of parental criminal behaviour. The results demonstrate support for static as well as dynamic explanations of intergenerational transmission such as the transmission of a criminogenic environment and/or mediation through risk factors.
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Keywords: developmental criminology; intergenerational transmission; mechanisms; parental criminality; risk factors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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