, Volume 47, Issue 9, pp 1391-1400
Date: 26 Nov 2011

What is the long-term outcome of boys who steal at age eight? Findings from the Finnish nationwide “From A Boy To A Man” birth cohort study

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Abstract

Objective

The aim was to study predictive associations between childhood stealing behavior at the of age 8 years with later psychiatric disorders, criminality or suicide attempts and completed suicides up to the age 25 years in a large representative population-based birth cohort.

Method

The sample includes 2,592 Finnish males born in 1981 with information about stealing from both parents and teachers. Information about psychiatric disorders, criminality, suicide attempts requiring hospital admission and completed suicides was gathered from four different Finnish nationwide registries until the study participants were 25 years old.

Results

One out of ten boys had stealing behavior during the previous 12 months. After adjusting for parental education level and conduct problems or hyperactivity (i.e. potential confounds), stealing at eight independently predicted substance use and antisocial personality disorders, and high level of crimes. Stealing was also associated with completed suicide or severe suicide attempt requiring hospital admission. Comorbid stealing and frequent aggression had the strongest predictive association with any psychiatric diagnosis, crime and completed suicide or severe suicide attempt, while stealing without aggression was not associated with any of the negative outcomes.

Conclusions

Stealing accompanied with aggressivity at age eight is predictive of wide range of adversities. However, no increased risk was observed among the group with stealing behaviors but without aggression.