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Researchers Devise A Method That Helps Spot Delinquency Risks

Update Date: May 07, 2014 09:02 AM EDT

Drug abuse, acts of rampage - there's lot going on with kids these days and while there are many places to lay blame, a new study shows that these risks vary in intensity from kid to kid and can be identified. 

Researchers have reportedly found a way to spot the adolescents most susceptible to specific risk factors for delinquency. Considering more than 30,000 teens for the survey, researchers were able to pin-point five subgroups and the risks for delinquency that were most relevant to each. 

The research used an innovative type of statistical analysis to uncover hidden delinquency risk subgroups. It focused on the individuals instead of the broad-brush technique that generally applies to the general population. While both of these approaches evaluate how factors like family, peers, school or community is involved, the board-brush analysis  "assumes all adolescents are the same." 

"We don't believe this is the case and felt that the results would vary for different adolescents. We wanted to fine-tune the approach," said one of the researchers in the press release. 

"On average, these kids each committed 44 acts of delinquency over the past year," said  Brittany Cooper, assistant professor, in the Washington State University department of human development, in the press release. "This is an extremely high-risk group of kids and the only group where individual antisocial attitudes did not predict delinquency. This was surprising as it usually shows up as a very strong predictive factor."

"For most kids, there is a normal spike in delinquency during adolescence, but it's not too serious and they usually grow out of it. For other kids, delinquency seems to take a persistent course ... violent behaviors and difficult temperaments show up very early in life and never resolve," she said. "We're wondering if the 1 percent might be part of this group."

The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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