The Adult Offending and School Dropout Nexus: A Life Course Analysis

The Adult Offending and School Dropout Nexus: A Life Course Analysis

The Adult Offending and School Dropout Nexus: A Life Course Analysis

The Adult Offending and School Dropout Nexus: A Life Course Analysis

Synopsis

Liu establishes that high school graduation operates as a turning point in late adolescence in redirecting individuals' adult offending trajectories. High school graduation is individually experienced and especially beneficial to those at high risk of dropping out. It also redirects adult offending trajectories by opening opportunities for experiencing adulthood turning point such as employment and romantic relationships. Liu's work provides empirical support for life course criminology and expands our knowledge about turning points by emphasizing that these events may occur at different stages of life (and not only in adulthood) and that the occurrence of turning points is systematically related and does not occur randomly.

Excerpt

By Raymond Paternoster

In the last fifteen to twenty years the field of criminology has been undergoing somewhat of a minor revolution in both its thinking about criminal offending and in the methods and analytical tools it uses to study crime, and Weiwei Liu’s The Adult Offending and School Dropout Nexus: A Life Course Analysis is an important addition to this new literature. Previously, criminologists were interested in why some people and not others committed criminal or delinquent acts, and the methods and tools used to address that question were primarily based upon between-person comparisons of offenders and non-offenders. For example, in a typical research study data were collected on a sample of high school students and delinquent offenders were identified by their admissions of crimes committed in the past, what is called a self-report. Researchers then compared offenders with non-offenders on a wide sweep of factors (age, gender, parental supervision, school grades, association with delinquent peers, etc.), and frequent with infrequent offenders to determine what might distinguish them. Compared with non-offenders or infrequent offenders, for example, it was discovered that those who offended frequently had lower school grades, were more likely to be male, were poorly supervised, and hung around with other offenders. These types of studies were called variable-centered studies because the key concern was what variables or factors successfully distinguished delinquents from non-delinquents or infrequent from frequent offenders. Such studies generally required data collected at only one point in time, a so called cross-sectional methodology.

Since approximately the mid-1980s, however, criminologists have become interested in a different sort of issue. Around that time they either discovered or first took seriously the idea that the criminal . . .

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