Developmental Theories

The Life Theories

Developmental Theory

Life Course Theory

Latent Trait Theory

The Life Course view

The Glueck Research

Life Course Concepts

Age of Onset

Early Onset

Adolescent-Limiteds Versus Life Course Persisters


Problem Behavior Syndrome (PBS)

Multiple Pathways

Authority Conflict Pathway

Covert Pathway

Overt Pathway

Continuity of Crime and Delinquency


Pioneering criminologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck tracked the onset and termination of delinquent careers.

Life course theories look at such issues as the onset of delinquency, escalation of offenses, continuity of delinquency, and desistance form delinquency.

The concept of problem behavior syndrome suggests that criminality may be just one of a cluster of social, psychological, and physical problems.

There is more than one pathway to delinquency.

Adolescent-limited offenders begin offending late and age out of delinquency. Life course persisters exhibit early onset of delinquency that persists into adulthood.

Life Course Theories

The Social Development Model

Prosocial Bonds

Interactional Theory

Focus on Preventing and Treating Delinquency: Across Ages

Age-Graded Theory

Turning Points

Social Capital

Testing Age-Graded Theory

What Does This Mean to Me? Family Ties


Life course theories attempt to integrate social, personal, and environmental factors into detailed explanation of the onset and persistence of delinquent careers.

The social development model (SDM) integrates social control, social learning, and structural models.

According to interactional theory, the causes of crime are bidirectional. Weak bonds lead kids to acquire deviant peer relations and engage in delinquency, delinquency weakens conventional bonds and strengthens relations with deviant peers.

According to age-graded theory, building social capital and strong social bonds reduces the likelihood of long-term deviance. As people go through their life course the factors that influence their behavior undergo change.

The Latent Trait View

Latent Trait

General Theory of Crime (GTC)

The Act and the Offender

Focus on Preventing and Treating Delinquency: Tracking Down Five Hundred Delinquent Boys in the New Millennium

What Makes People Delinquency-Prone?



Self-Control and Delinquency

Supporting Evidence for the GTC

Analyzing the GTC


Latent trait theories assume a physical or psychological trait makes some people delinquency-prone.

Opportunity to commit delinquency varies: latent traits remain stable.

The general theory of crime says an impulsive personality is key.

Impulsive people have low self-control and a weak bond to society.

Impulsive people often cannot resist delinquent opportunities.

Evaluating the Developmental View

New Directions in Preventing Delinquency

Primary Prevention Efforts: Early Childhood

Primary Prevention

Helping Families Care for Children’s Health and Well-Being

Improving Parenting Skills

Providing Daycare

Providing Better Nutrition

Helping Kids Prepare for School

Can Primary Prevention Work?