Risk Factors and Crime

Emily E. Tanner-Smith, Sandra Jo Wilson and Mark W. Lipsey

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Risk Factors and Crime

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  • Theories of Crime



Over the past twenty years, developmental criminology has emerged as an increasingly important lens for viewing delinquency and subsequent criminal behavior. The focus of developmental criminology on age-related trajectories of criminal behavior has seen researchers train their sights on the explanatory and causal risk factors that affect a person's likelihood to commit a crime over the life course. Prospective longitudinal studies have provided most of the evidence that links certain risk factors with later delinquent or criminal offending and have actually identified numerous predictors of that behavior. This article examines the developmental criminology perspective and the risk research paradigm, along with the developmental risk factors for crime and delinquency across five key risk domains (individuals, family, peers, schools, and community). Drawing on a meta-analysis of prospective longitudinal panel research studies, the article presents results that summarize the predictive strength of different risk factors for crime and delinquency during adolescence and early adulthood. Some of the risk factors are very promising as targets for delinquency and crime prevention interventions.

Keywords: risk factors; crime; delinquency; family; schools; community; peers; adolescence; early adulthood; developmental criminology

Article.  8799 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime

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