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Developmental Pathways in Boys' Disruptive and Delinquent Behavior

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1997
20 pages
Publication Series
This Bulletin summarizes longitudinal research from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, which has documented three developmental pathways that boys follow as they progress to more serious problem behaviors.
Based on longitudinal investigations that involved repeated contacts with the same juveniles and their primary caretakers over a substantial portion of their developmental years, the study shows that the development of disruptive and delinquent behavior by boys generally occurs in an orderly, progressive fashion, with less serious problem behaviors preceding more serious problem behaviors. The researchers documented three developmental pathways that display progressively more serious problem behaviors among boys in three conceptually similar domains: authority conflict (defiance and running away), covert actions (lying and stealing), and overt actions (aggression and violent behavior). The researchers believe that conceptualization of past, current, and future disruptive behavior can best be captured by means of developmental pathways. A pathway is identified when a group of individuals experience a behavioral development that is distinct from the behavioral development of other groups of individuals. Individuals may proceed along single or multiple developmental pathways, with each pathway representing major dimensions of disruptive and delinquent behavior. Understanding these progressions will help those who work with youth identify problem behavior and intervene earlier and more effectively in the lives of troubled boys before they advance to the more serious stages of delinquent and disruptive behaviors. 14 figures, 4 tables, and 24 references

Date Published: December 1, 1997