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Anti-Social Parental Behaviour, Problematic Parenting and Aggressive Offspring Behaviour During Adulthood: A 25-Year Longitudinal Investigation

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 44 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2004 Pages: 915-930
Date Published
November 2004
16 pages

Data from a 25-year, community-based, prospective longitudinal study were used to examine the link between a history of antisocial parental behavior and the aggressive behavior of offspring in adulthood.


The original participants were 976 randomly sampled mothers from 2 upstate New York counties who were first interviewed in 1975, when they had a child between the ages of 1 and 10 in the household. The mothers and a randomly sampled child (51 percent male) were re-interviewed in 1983, 1985-86, and 1991-93. The mean offspring age was 5.5 in 1975, 13.8 in 1983, 16.1 in 1985-86, 22.1 in 1991-93, and 30 in 2000. The current analyses involved data from 593 families for whom information was available on a history of antisocial parental behavior and problematic parental behavior in the home during the childhood and adolescence of the offspring for both biological parents, as well as offspring aggression in adulthood. A history of maternal and paternal antisocial behavior was obtained during the maternal interviews at the mean offspring ages of 6, 14, and 16, supplemented by family history data obtained during the maternal interview at mean offspring age 22. Questionnaires that assessed a wide range of aggressive acts that had occurred since the prior interview were administered to the offspring. In 2000, data were also obtained from New York State and FBI records regarding arrests and charges for criminal behavior during the individual's lifetime. The study found that problematic parenting was linked with offspring aggression during adulthood after a history of antisocial parental behavior was statistically controlled. Antisocial parental behavior was associated with offspring aggressive behavior during adulthood before, but not after, problematic parenting was controlled. These findings support the hypothesis that problematic parenting behaviors tend to mediate the association between antisocial parental behavior and subsequent offspring aggression. 3 tables, 2 figures, and 59 references

Date Published: November 1, 2004