Testing the role of emotion dysregulation as a predictor of juvenile delinquency

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The current study proposed to determine whether adolescent emotion regulation (ER) is predictive of the amount and type of crime committed by adolescent juvenile offenders. Despite literature linking ER to behavior problems and aggression across the lifespan, there is no prior longitudinal research examining the predictive role of ER on adolescent recidivism, nor data regarding how ER relates to the occurrence of specific types of crimes. Our primary hypothesis was that poor ER would positively and significantly predict re-offending among adolescents. We tested our hypothesis within a binary logistic framework utilizing the Pathways to Desistance ("Pathways to Desistance," 2000) longitudinal data. Exploratory bivariate analyses were conducted regarding ER and type of crime in the service of future hypothesis generation. Though findings did not indicate a statistically significant relation between ER and reoffending, exploratory findings suggest that some types of crime may be more linked to ER than others. Directions for future research that build upon the current study were described. Indeed, identifying ER as a predictor of adolescent crime has the potential to enhance current crime prevention efforts and clinical treatments for juvenile offenders based on large treatment literature documenting that ER is malleable through treatment and prevention programming.

Emotion Regulation, Recidivism, Delinquency, Adolescents, Crime