U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Prevention of Serious and Violent Juvenile Offending

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2000
16 pages
This Bulletin describes some of the developmental precursors for serious and violent juvenile offending and describes effective approaches for its prevention that focus on family, parent, and child.
The best predictor of antisocial adolescent behavior is early conduct problems. Most serious offenders have a history of childhood misbehavior, including antisocial behaviors such as physical aggression; conduct disorders; and disruptive, covert, oppositional, and defiant behaviors. Identifying the risk factors for these behaviors is important in developing strategies to prevent violent offending. Risk factors may include community-level risk factors, such as poverty or access to guns or drugs, as well as proximal risk factors, such as parent management practices, deviant peer groups, or low intelligence. This Bulletin explores these proximal risk factors, reviews the early developmental precursors to violent offending, and summarizes approaches to prevention. It also discusses components of intervention programs; limitations of single-focus preventions; examples of well-designed, multisystemic intervention programs that target proximal risk factors; and limitations of prevention strategies. Among the strategies recommended are parent management training, functional family therapy, and family preservation. Child-focused strategies include social competence training, academic skills enhancement, and medication. Other strategies described are classroom-focused and peer group-focused. 145 references

Date Published: April 1, 2000