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Literature review of precursors of delinquency and critical review of Yochelson and Samenow's Theory of Delinquency Precursors

1 May 1989


In this paper results of studies published over the past 30 years are reviewed to determine if there is supportive evidence for Yochelson and Samenow's concept that criminals behave differently than noncriminals from early childhood, exhibiting deviant behavior that is predictive of future criminality. A general overview of theories of causes of criminality is presented as well as a critical review of studies that have attempted to identify characteristics .. in children that are predictive of delinquency and criminal behavior. Most longitudinal studies of delinquency tested hypotheses that particular childhood behaviors would result in future delinquency. Often the studies used prelabeled delinquent or problem children as subjects and many of the studies used data collected years prior to the study. Many used police records as the measure of delinquency which· produced inaccurate data. The conclusion is drawn that the Yochelson and Samenow theory does not provide an adequate model, either for understanding criminals or for treatment of them.


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