Trajectories of Boys' Physical Aggression, Opposition, and Hyperactivity on the Path to Physically Violent and Nonviolent Juvenile Delinquency



A semi-parametric mixture model was used with a sample of 1,037 boys assessed repeatedly from 6 to 15 years of age to approximate a continuous distribution of developmental trajectories for three externalizing behaviors. Regression models were then used to determine which trajectories best predicted physically violent and nonviolent juvenile delinquency up to 17 years of age. Four developmental trajectories were identified for the physical aggression, opposition, and hyperactivity externalizing behavior dimensions: a chronic problem trajectory, a high level near-desister trajectory, a moderate level desister trajectory, and a no problem trajectory. Boys who followed a given trajectory for one type of externalizing problem behavior did not necessarily follow the same trajectory for the two other types of behavior problem. The different developmental trajectories of problem behavior also led to different types of juvenile delinquency. A chronic oppositional trajectory, with the physical aggression and hyperactivity trajectories being held constant, led to covert delinquency (theft) only, while a chronic physical aggression trajectory, with the oppositional and hyperactivity trajectories being held constant, led to overt delinquency (physical violence) and to the most serious delinquent acts.