Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 241–255 | Cite as

Repeat Offending in Australian Populations: Profile of Engagement in Antisocial and Risk-Taking Behaviours

  • Kimberley A. BrindleEmail author
  • Terence V. Bowles
  • Elizabeth Freeman


Antisocial behaviour is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as behaviours that demonstrate a disregard for or the violation of social norms. The age–crime curve model states that engagement in antisocial and risk-taking behaviours is prevalent during adolescence; however, further research is required to explore the applicability of this model for a selection of behaviours. A convenience sample (n = 393) was used to explore adult’s retrospective profiles of engagement using the Antisocial Engagement Questionnaire. The initial ages of engagement for 45 antisocial and risk-taking behaviours in an Australian sample were recorded (overall mean age = 17.01, SD = 2.51) and evidence for the age–crime curve model documented. Significant differences were found between the mean initial ages with antisocial behaviours occurring earlier than substance-related behaviours. Prevalence rates of engagement within the sample were also documented which were used to explore repeat offending and compared with previously recorded rates of engagement. As will be discussed, these findings are important for practitioners and researchers, in addition to informing the development of interventions, and the allocation of resources.


Antisocial behaviour Delinquency Repeat offending Developmental trajectories Risk-taking 



This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abbey, A., & McAuslan, P. (2004). A longitudinal examination of male college students’ perpetration of sexual assault. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 747–756. Scholar
  2. AIHW. (2014). National drug strategy household survey detailed report: 2013 (Drug statistics series no. 28). Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). Australian social trends. Risk-taking by young people. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  4. Bacon, A. M., Burak, H., & Rann, J. (2014). Sex differences in the relationship between sensation seeking, trait emotional intelligence, and delinquent behaviour. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 25(6), 673–683. Scholar
  5. Boeri, M., & Whalen, T. (2008). Older drug users: A life course study of turning points in drug use and injection trajectories. Gerontologist, 48, 637–645. Scholar
  6. Brigham, J., Lessov-Schlaggar, C., Javitz, H., McElroy, M., Krasnow, R., & Swan, G. (2008). Reliability of adult retrospective recall of lifetime tobacco use. Nicotine and Tobacco, 10, 287–299. Scholar
  7. Brody, G., & Ge, X. (2001). Linking parenting and self-regulation to functioning and alcohol use in early adolescence. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 82–94. Scholar
  8. Buscha, F., & Conte, A. (2014). The impact of truancy on educational attainment during compulsory schooling: A bivariate ordered probit estimator with mixed effects. The Manchester School, 82, 103–127. Scholar
  9. Carroll, A., Durkin, K., Houghton, S., & Hattie, J. (1996). An adaptation of Mak’s self-reported delinquency scale for Western Australian adolescents. Australian Journal of Psychology, 48, 1–7. Scholar
  10. Castro, Y., Carbonell, J. L., & Anestis, J. C. (2011). The influence of gender role on the prediction of antisocial behaviour and somatization. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 58(4), 409–416. Scholar
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006). Ten leading causes of death and injury. Injury prevention and control: Data and statistics. Retrieved May 8, 2014 from
  12. Coakes, S., & Ong, C. (2011). SPSS Version 18.0 for Windows: Analysis without anguish. SA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Crime, A. (2011). Australian facts and figures. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.Google Scholar
  14. Dembo, R., Briones-Robinson, R., Barrett, K., Winters, K., Schmeidler, J., Ungaro, R., … Gulledg, L. (2013). Mental health, substance use, and delinquency among truant youth in a brief intervention project: A longitudinal study. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 21, 176–192. Scholar
  15. East, R., Uncles, M., Romaniuk, J., & Hand, C. (2013). Distortion in retrospective measures of word of mouth. International Journal of Market Research, 55, 2–9. Scholar
  16. Elliott, D., & Ageton, S. (1980). Reconciling race and class differences in self-reported and official estimates of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 45, 95–110. Scholar
  17. Enzmann, D. (2013). The impact of questionnaire design on prevalence and incidence rates of self-reported delinquency: Results of an experiment modifying the ISRD-2 questionnaire. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 29, 147–177. Scholar
  18. Figlio, R. (1975). The seriousness of offenses: An evaluation by offenders and non-offenders. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 66, 189–200. Scholar
  19. Greenwood, P. (2008). Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. Juvenile Justice, 18, 185–210. Scholar
  20. Hall, M. T., & Howard, M. O. (2009). Nitrite inhalant abuse in antisocial youth: Prevalence, patterns, and predictors. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 41(2), 135–143. Scholar
  21. Hemphill, S. A., McMorris, B. J., Toumbourou, J. W., Herrenkohl, T. I., Catalano, R. F., & Mathers, M. (2007). Rates of student reported antisocial behavior, school suspensions, and arrests in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, United States. Journal of School Health, 77(6), 303–311. Scholar
  22. Hemphill, S. A., Smith, R., Herrenkohl, T. I., Catalano, R. F., McMorris, B. J., Toumbourou, J. W., … Romaniuk, H. (2009). Modifiable determinants of youth violence in Australia and the United States: A longitudinal study. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 42, 289–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hemphill, S. A., Toumbourou, J. W., Herrenkohl, T. I., McMorris, B. J., & Catalano, R. F. (2006). The effect of school suspensions and arrests on subsequent adolescent antisocial behavior in Australia and the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 623–784. Scholar
  24. Hickle, K., & Roe-Sepowitz, D. (2010). Female juvenile arsonists: An exploratory look at characteristics and solo and group arson offences. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15, 385–399. Scholar
  25. Huizinga, D., & Elliott, D. S. (1986). Reassessing the reliability and validity of self-report delinquency measures. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 2(4), 293–327. Scholar
  26. Jennings, W., & Reingle, J. (2012). On the number and shape of developmental/life-course violence, aggression and delinquency trajectories: A state-of-the-art review. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40, 472–489. Scholar
  27. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2005). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2004: Volume II. College students and adults ages 19–45 (NIH Publication No (pp. 05–5728). Bethesda: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  28. Jordan, G. (2011). Gender differences in the developmental trajectories, risk factors and outcomes of antisocial behaviors. Gender and Behaviour, 9(1), 3528–3542. Retrieved from
  29. Kaplan, R. M., & Saccuzzo, D. P. (2005). Psychological testing: Principles, applications and issues (6th edn.). Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson.Google Scholar
  30. Keaney, F., Gossop, M., Dimech, A., Guerrini, I., Butterworth, M., Al-Hassani, H., … Morinan, A. (2011). Physical health problems among patients seeking treatment for substance use disorders: A comparison of drug dependent and alcohol dependent patients. Journal of Substance Use, 16, 27–37. Scholar
  31. Kelley, A. E., Schochet, T., & Landry, C. F. (2004). Risk-taking and novelty seeking in adolescence. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 27–32. Scholar
  32. Lawrence, J. A. (2006). Taking the developmental pathways approach to understanding and preventing antisocial behaviour. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 39(3), 310–326. Scholar
  33. Lev-Ran, S., Strat, Y., Imtias, S., Rehm, J., & Foll, B. (2013). Gender differences in prevalence of substance use disorders among individuals with lifetime exposure to substances: Results from a large representative sample. The American Journal of Addictions, 22, 7–13. Scholar
  34. Lowry, R., Cohen, L. R., Modzeleski, W., Kann, L., Collins, J. L., & Kolbe, L. J. (1999). School violence, substance use and availability of illegal drugs on school property among US high school students. Journal of School Health, 69, 347–355. Scholar
  35. Martinez, J., Rutledge, P., & Sher, K. (2007). Fake ID ownership and heavy drinking in underage college students: Prospective findings. Psychology of Addictive Behaviours, 21, 226–232. Scholar
  36. McCauley, J., Ruggiero, K., Resnick, H., & Kilpatrick, D. (2010). Incapacitated, forcible and drug/alcohol-facilitated rape in relation to binge drinking, marijuana use, and illicit drug use: A national survey. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 132–140. Scholar
  37. McGue, M., Iacono, W. G., Legrand, L. N., Malone, S., & Elkins, I. (2001). Origins and consequences of age at first drink. Associations with substance use disorders, disinhibitory behavior and psychopathology, and P3 Amplitude. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 25(8), 1156–1165. Scholar
  38. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 4, 674–701. Scholar
  39. Mulvey, E. P. (2014). Using developmental science to reorient our thinking about criminal offending in adolescence. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 51(4), 467–479. Scholar
  40. Ng, S. (2014). Australian crime: Facts and Figs. 2013. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.Google Scholar
  41. O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., Myint-U, A., Duran, R., Agronick, G., & Wilson-Simmons, R. (2006). Middle school aggression and subsequent intimate partner physical violence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 693–703. Scholar
  42. Palmer, E., & Hollin, C. (2001). Self-reported delinquency in persistent young offenders. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 16, 67–83.Google Scholar
  43. Patrick, M., Blair, C., & Maggs, J. (2008). Executive function, approach sensitivity and emotional decision-making as influences on risk behaviours in young adults. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 30, 449–462. Scholar
  44. Ramchand, R., MacDonald, J., Haviland, A., & Morral, A. (2009). A developmental approach for measuring the severity of crimes. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 25, 129–153. Scholar
  45. Rew, L., Horner, S., & Brown, A. (2011). Health risk behaviours in early adolescence. Issues in Comprehensive Paediatric Nursing, 34, 79–96. Scholar
  46. Riesch, S., Kedrowski, K., Brown, R., Temkin, B., Wang, K., Henriques, J., … Giustino-Kluba, N. (2013). Health-risk behaviours among a sample of US pre-adolescents: Types, frequency and predictive factors. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50, 1067–1079. Scholar
  47. Roberton, T., Daffern, M., & Bucks, R. (2012). Emotion regulation and aggression. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 17, 72–82. Scholar
  48. Shook, J., Vaughn, M., & Salas-Wright, C. (2013). Exploring the variation in drug selling among adolescents in the United States. Journal of Criminal Justice, 41, 365–374. Scholar
  49. Smith-Osborne, A. (2005). Comparative theoretical perspectives on a social problem: Psychopathology and middle-class teen female shoplifters. Juvenile Offenders and Mental Illness, 15, 73–84. Scholar
  50. Spear, L. (2000). Modelling adolescent development and alcohol use in animals. Alcohol Research and Health, 24, 115–123.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Sweeten, G., Piquero, A., & Steinberg, L. (2013). Age and the explanation of crime, revisited. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 921–938. Scholar
  52. Vassallo, S., Smart, D., Sanson, A., Dussuyer, I., McKendry, B., Toumbourou, J., … Oberklaid, F. (2002). Patterns and precursors of adolescent antisocial behaviour. Australian Institute of Family Studies and Crime Prevention Victoria.Google Scholar
  53. Vaughn, M., Fu, Q., DeLisi, M., Wright, J., Beaver, K., Perron, B., … Howard, M. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of fire-setting in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiological Survey on alcohol and related conditions. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 51, 217–223. Scholar
  54. Watt, B. D., Geritz, K., Hasan, T., Harden, S., & Doley, R. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of fire setting behaviors among offending and non-offending youth. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 20(1), 19–36. Scholar
  55. Wolfgang, M., Figlio, R., Tracy, P. E., & Singer, S. (1977). National crime surveys: Index of Crime Severity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberley A. Brindle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Terence V. Bowles
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations