The key predictor of antisocial behavior and violent crime (as opposed to nonviolent crime) is poor emotion regulation in early childhood.
A very small group of boys grow up to become involved in persistent antisocial behavior and violent offending. Research has confirmed that there are reliable predictors of antisocial behavior in boys as early as the age of two or three.
A key predictor of violent crime (as opposed to nonviolent crime) is poor emotion regulation in early childhood. Where this is linked to persistent conduct problems through childhood, particularly when combined with hyperactivity/attention problems, there is a correlation with male violence and antisocial behavior in adolescence and early adulthood.
The problem mainly relates to boys. Research has suggested that the male brain is more vulnerable to adverse influences in early childhood. See Male violence: Early childhood development predictors.
The research suggests that violence prevention programs should prioritise the development of self-regulation skills in boys living in urban poverty, through working directly with them and through parenting programs. Some programs have already been successful in this regard. The High-Scope Perry Preschool Study reduced early violent antisocial behavior by targeting self-regulation skills in early childhood. Other programs, such as the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum and Family Check-Up, have improved children’s emotion regulation and reduced conduct problems. Positive parenting is often associated with the improvement in child conduct in these programs.
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