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Narratives of Childhood Adversity and Adolescent Misconduct as Precursors to Violent Extremism - A Life-Course Criminological Approach

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 53 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2016 Pages: 536-563
Date Published
July 2016
28 pages

This study examined how non-ideological factors, such as childhood risk factors and adolescent conduct problems, precede participation in violent extremism (VE).


Based on self-reports, the study found the substantial presence of childhood risk factors and adolescent conduct problems to be precursors to participation in violent extremist groups. The findings suggest that pathways to VE are more complex than previously identified in the literature and that violent extremists are a heterogeneous population of offenders whose life histories resemble members of conventional street gangs and generic criminal offenders. Researchers conducted in-depth life-history interviews with former members of violent White supremacist groups (N = 44) to examine their childhood and adolescent experiences, and how they explain the factors that led to the onset of VE. The article concludes with a discussion of implications related to criminological theory, directions for future research, and study limitations. 36 references (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: July 1, 2016