Many children reach adulthood without involvement in serious delinquent behavior, even in the face of multiple risks.
Although risk factors may help identify which children are most in need of preventive interventions, they cannot identify which particular children will become serious or chronic offenders.
Although individual, social, and community-level factors interact, each level is discussed separately for clarity.
A large number of individual factors and characteristics has been associated with the development of juvenile delinquency.
To fully appreciate the development of these individual characteristics and their relations to delinquency, one needs to study the development of the individual in interaction with the environment.
In order to simplify presentation of the research, however, this section deals only with individual factors.late adolescence, and fall through young adulthood (see, e.g., Farrington, 1986a; National Research Council, 1986).Some lawbreaking experience at some time during adolescence is nearly universal in American children, although much of this behavior is reasonably mild and temporary.A longitudinal study of a representative sample from high-risk neighborhoods in Denver also found a growth in the self-reported prevalence of serious violence from age 10 through late adolescence (Kelley et al., 1997).Females in the Denver sample exhibited a peak in serious violence in midadolescence, but prevalence continued to increase through age 19 for the boys.These individual factors include age, gender, complications during pregnancy and delivery, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and substance use.Some factors operate before birth (prenatal) or close to, during, and shortly after birth (perinatal); some can be identified in early childhood; and other factors may not be evident until late childhood or during adolescence.It has long been known that most adult criminals were involved in delinquent behavior as children and adolescents; most delinquent children and adolescents, however, do not grow up to be adult criminals (Robins, 1978).Similarly, most serious, chronically delinquent children and adolescents experience a number of risk factors at various levels, but most children and adolescents with risk factors do not become serious, chronic delinquents.Clearly, genes affect biological development, but there is no biological development without environmental input.Thus, both biology and environment influence behavior.