Publications: Criminology

  • Whitten, T., Laurens, K.R., Tzoumakis, S., Kaggodaarachchi, S., Green, M.J., Harris, F., Carr, V.J., Dean, K. (2019). The influence of parental offending on the continuity and discontinuity of children’s internalizing and externalizing difficulties from early to middle childhood. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology (Published online 12 February 2019).

This study examined the relationship between parental offending and the continuity and discontinuity of children’s conduct, attentional, and emotional difficulties from early to middle childhood while also considering the role of timing of the parental offending exposure. We specifically tested associations between mother’s and father’s history and timing of any and violent offending, and patterns of continuity or discontinuity in offspring emotional, conduct, and attentional difficulties between ages 5 and 11 years, in a population sample of 19,208 children and their parents drawn from the New South Wales Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) cohort. Maternal and paternal offending each conferred  increased risk of all patterns of developmental difficulties, including those limited to age 5 only (remitting problems), to age 11 only (incident problems), and difficulties present at both ages 5 and 11 years (persisting problems), with the greatest associations observed between parental offending history and persisting conduct problems. Paternal offending that continued through early and middle childhood had the greatest association with child developmental difficulties, while the timing of maternal offending had a less prominent effect on child developmental difficulties.

  • Tzoumakis, S., Burton, M., Carr, V.J., Dean, K., Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J. (2019). Parental offending and children’s conduct problems. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice No. 571. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.  

This study examined the the link between parental criminal offending history and offspring behaviour in middle childhood, in a population sample of 21,956 children drawn from the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS). Specifically, the prevalence of offending among mothers and fathers was examined in relation to the children’s conduct problems at age 11 years. The findings showed that parental offending history increased the likelihood of conduct problems among offspring, and that maternal violent offending was most strongly associated with conduct problems in middle childhood. The findings suggest that the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behaviour begins early, highlighting the importance of intervention for at-risk children and programs targeted at mothers as well as fathers.

  • Tzoumakis, S., Carr, V.J., Dean, K., Laurens, K.R., Kariuki, M., Harris, F., Green, M.J. (2018). Prenatal maternal smoking, maternal offending, and offspring behavioural and cognitive outcomes in early childhood. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 28(5), 397-408, doi: 10.1002/cbm.2089 (Published online 5 September 2018).

This study examined the associations between quantity of prenatal smoking and frequency of maternal offending and offspring behavioural and cognitive outcomes at age 5 years, while accounting for other prenatal and family risk factors. Prenatal smoking and frequent maternal offending (comprising two or more offences) were associated with all developmental vulnerabilities examined, even after adjusting for other familial and prenatal risk factors. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) for prenatal smoking ranged from 5.3% to 15.8% and PAFs for maternal offending ranged from 3.4% to 11.8% across the offspring outcomes. These findings suggest prevention and intervention efforts during prenatal periods for vulnerable families may have benefits for both behavioural and cognitive problems in early childhood.

  • Tzoumakis, S, Dean, K, Green, MJ, Zheng, C, Kariuki, M, Harris, F, Carr, VJ, & Laurens, KR. The impact of parental offending on offspring aggression in early childhood: A population-based record linkage study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 2017, 54(4), 445-455. Published online 13 January 2017: doi: 10.1007/s00127-017-1347-3   

This study examined the impact of parental criminal offending, both paternal and maternal, on offspring aggression at age 5 years. Parental mental illness, child’s sex, and socioeconomic disadvantage were also accounted for in the analyses. Offspring aggression was assessed using the Aggressive Behaviour subdomain of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), a teacher-reported cross-sectional survey on child development. Parental criminal offending was obtained from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics data and parental mental health was obtained from NSW Admitted Patients and Mental Health Ambulatory data. Parental history of violent and frequent offending increased the risk of high levels of aggression in offspring during early childhood, highlighting the need for intervention with affected families during this key developmental period.

  • Laurens, K.R., Tzoumakis, S., Kariuki, M., Green, M.J., Hamde, M., Harris, F., Carr, V.J., Dean, K. (2017). Pervasive influence of maternal and paternal criminal offending on early childhood development: A population data linkage study. Psychological Medicine, 47(5), 889-901.

This report examined the impact of parental criminal offending on developmental outcomes at age 5 years. Data from the Australian Early Development Census, a teacher-reported assessment of childhood development across five key domains, was linked with maternal and paternal offending histories obtained from official records. Children whose parents had a history of criminal offending were at significantly greater risk of developmental vulnerability on each of the five domains. The risk of vulnerability increased further when both parents offended, when mothers rather than fathers offended, and when the offending was of a violent nature. For all types of offending, children were more likely to be vulnerable on multiple domains than on a single domain. These findings indicate a widespread impact of parental offending on early childhood development and highlight the need to support affected families in order to improve outcomes.