age of onset | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminology

In criminology, the term age of onset is used to refer to the age at which a child begins a delinquent career.

In the field of criminology, the age of onset refers to the age at which an individual begins engaging in delinquent behavior. This concept is important because research has shown that the earlier an individual begins their delinquent career, the more likely they are to continue offending and engage in more serious criminal behavior later in life.

The age of onset is typically used to study patterns of offending over time and to identify risk factors that may contribute to the development of delinquent behavior. It is often used in conjunction with other factors, such as family background, peer influence, and socioeconomic status, to better understand the complex interplay of factors that contribute to delinquent behavior.

Research has consistently shown that early onset of delinquency is a significant risk factor for chronic patterns of offending. Individuals who begin engaging in delinquent behavior at a young age are more likely to continue engaging in delinquent behavior throughout their adolescence and into adulthood. They are also more likely to engage in more serious and violent criminal behavior as they age.

The reasons for this link between early-onset delinquency and chronic patterns of offending are complex and multifaceted. Some researchers suggest that early-onset delinquency may be linked to neurobiological factors, such as impulsivity and sensation-seeking behavior. Others argue that early onset delinquency may be linked to family dysfunction, such as parental neglect or abuse, or to exposure to violence and trauma.

Regardless of the specific factors that contribute to early onset delinquency, it is clear that addressing this issue is crucial in the prevention of chronic patterns of offending. Early intervention and prevention programs that target risk factors for delinquency, such as family dysfunction and exposure to violence, have been shown to be effective in reducing delinquent behavior.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/29/2023

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