Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 669–680 | Cite as

Identifying Children at Risk of Problematic Development: Latent Clusters Among Childhood Arrestees

  • Charlotte A. M. L. Geluk
  • Lieke van Domburgh
  • Theo A. H. Doreleijers
  • Lucres M. C. Jansen
  • Samantha Bouwmeester
  • Francisca Galindo Garre
  • Robert Vermeiren


The presence of clusters characterized by distinct profiles of individual, family and peer characteristics among childhood arrestees was investigated and cluster membership stability after 2 years was determined. Identification of such clusters in this heterogeneous at-risk group can extend insight into the presence and severity of children’s co-occurring problems and guide intervention and prevention efforts. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to detect clusters among 308 childhood arrestees (mean age 10.7 years), based on dichotomous dynamic correlates of offending present at the time of first arrest. Correlates in the individual, peer and family domains were assessed at baseline and 2-year follow-up, using standardized instruments. This resulted in identification of a low problem group characterized by few problems across all domains (40.2 %), an externalizing intermediate problem group characterized by mainly externalizing problems on the individual and peer domains (39.4 %), and a pervasive high problem group characterized by numerous problems across all domains (20.4 %). Cluster membership was most stable for the low problem group (71.4 %), followed by the externalizing intermediate problem group (49.5 %). Transition was highest in the pervasive high problem group (63.0 %), with the majority of children progressing to the externalizing intermediate problem group. The identification of such distinct clusters among childhood arrestees, differing in the presence of co-occurring problems, stresses the importance of a first police arrest as an opportunity for early recognition of children in need of care. As problems present at the time of first arrest do not persist in every child, careful periodic monitoring is needed.


Childhood offending Latent class analysis Concurrent problems Monitoring 



This study was supported by the municipalities of Utrecht and Amersfoort, the Rotterdam metropolitan region, the province of Utrecht, the Kinderpostzegels Nederland Foundation, the Dutch Ministry of Justice’s Research and Documentation Center and the Police Science and Research Program. In addition, the first author received travel grants from the De Drie Lichten Foundation and the Dittmer Fund.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte A. M. L. Geluk
    • 1
    • 7
  • Lieke van Domburgh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Theo A. H. Doreleijers
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lucres M. C. Jansen
    • 1
  • Samantha Bouwmeester
    • 4
  • Francisca Galindo Garre
    • 5
  • Robert Vermeiren
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Research and DevelopmentLSG RentrayZutphenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Criminal Justice, Leiden Law SchoolLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Institute of PsychologyErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCurium-LUMC, Leiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryVU Medical CenterDuivendrechtThe Netherlands

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