chapter  9
Making delinquency prevention work with children and adolescents: from risk assessment to effective interventions
Pages 25

Studies have shown that individuals with an early onset of delinquency, prior to the age of 12, are more at risk of later serious violent and chronic offending by three times, as compared to those individuals who begin their delinquent careers in adolescence (Loeber and Farrington, 2001; Moffi tt, 1993). This particular group of serious and persistent juvenile offenders accounts for 50 per cent of all juvenile offending (Loeber and Farrington, 1998). The economic cost of serious antisocial behavior in children and adolescents is substantial and the implications for society can be enormous (Loeber, Slot, van der Laan, and Hoeve, 2008). Such antisocial behaviors typically start before the age of 14 (Loeber, et al., 2008) and include costs that may relate to accessing health, mental health, child welfare, and special education. For example, Romeo, Knapp and Scott (2006) reported an annual cost of approximately GB £6,000 per year for children between the ages of three and eight years demonstrating antisocial behavior. Koegl (2011) conducted a longitudinal analysis on a clinical sample of Canadian children with conduct problems and found, for those who entered the juvenile justice system, the costs per case averaged approximately US $100K per year over a nine-year period. When looking at high-risk offenders, cost per case increased to upwards of US $1.4 million, and Koegl (2011) commented that although crime prevention programs may reach and benefi t a small fraction of children, they can still produce enormous savings to society. Foster, Jones, and the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2005) also concluded that ‘. . . public expenditures may be reduced if resources are moved from coping with problem behaviors to preventing them’ (p. 1771). A similar recommendation was formulated by Romeo, et al. (2006): ‘Wider uptake of evidence-based interventions is likely to lead to considerable economic benefi ts in the short term, and probably even more in the long term’ (p. 547).