Association between behaviour at age 3 years and adult criminality

J Stevenson, R Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Background The continuity in antisocial behaviour into adulthood from middle childhood is well established but it is not clear whether this is also true of the pre-school period. Aims To determine whether preschool behaviour problems increase the risk of later criminal convictions and add to risk associated with family and social circumstances. Method The records of adult conviction's were traced for a general population sample (n=828) initially assessed at age 3 years. Results The risk of having any adult conviction was related to soiling, daytime enuresis, activity level and management difficulties, and that of having an adult violent offence to recent-onset daytime enuresis, management difficulties and temper tantrums. The only other predictors of later convictions were the child's gender and social competence at age 3 years. Conclusions The presence of specific behaviour problems in the pre-school period places the child at increased risk of being convicted of an adult offence. Family and social circumstances at age 3 years did not predict later convictions. Declaration of interest None.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197 - 202
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberSEPT.
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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