Predicting Future Criminal Convictions of Children Under Age 12 Using the Early Assessment Risk Lists
The Early Assessment Risk Lists for Boys (EARL-20B) and Girls (EARL-21G) measure risk for future antisocial behaviour in conduct-disordered children aged 6–11. Their aim is to assist clinicians in targeting these factors so that evidence-based, age-graded responses to antisocial behaviour can be provided to prevent children from entering the criminal justice system. EARL-20B and EARL-21G factors are targeted in the Stop Now And Plan® (SNAP) crime prevention program, which has been proven to be both effective and cost-effective. The present study assessed the long-term predictive power of the EARL-20B for 379 boys and the EARL-21G for 67 girls who received the SNAP program between 1985 and 1999.
EARL scores were retrospectively coded from case files by three independent raters who also provided confidence ratings for each case (i.e. high, moderate, low). EARL scores were compared with official criminal conviction records registered between each child’s 12th and 21st birthdays.
The EARL-20B total score was a significant predictor of any offence for boys and its predictive power was improved for high-confidence ratings. For females, the EARL-21G total score predicted property offending and administration of justice charges for high-moderate confidence cases only. Specific individual, family and peer factors predicted conviction status at follow-up for boys and girls.
The findings from this study provide support for using empirically-derived risk assessment tools such as the EARL-20B and EARL-21G to identify children at high risk for future involvement in crime. Developmental crime prevention programs such as SNAP should focus on children with a subset of risk factors that have strong statistical relationships with conviction status during adolescence and early adulthood.
KeywordsRisk assessment Risk factors Antisocial children Conduct disorder Criminal outcomes Gender differences
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