Editorials

The impact of antisocial lifestyle on health

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7394.834 (Published 19 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:834

Family, school, and police interventions can reduce health risks

  1. Jonathan Shepherd, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery (shepherdjp@cardiff.ac.uk),
  2. David Farrington, professor of psychological criminology
  1. University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF14 4XY
  2. University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9DT

    An antisocial lifestyle comprises a range of related behaviours that include violent and non-violent offending, substance misuse, truancy, reckless driving, and sexual promiscuity, some of which constitute self evident health risks.1 Overall, onset peaks at 8-14 years, prevalence peaks at 15-19, and desistance peaks at 20-29 years of age. Early onset predicts a long antisocial career. Since antisocial behaviour and risk taking is more prevalent in men, explanations may be biological as well as social. Antisocial individuals tend to be versatile in their behaviours, although early adulthood is characterised by a switch from group offending to lone offending. Overall, diversification in antisocial behaviours is seen up to the age of about 20, followed by gradual specialisation in particular types of antisocial behaviours, such as illicit use of drugs.2

    Independent precursors of an antisocial lifestyle include antisocial child behaviour, impulsivity, school failure, an antisocial family, poor parenting, and economic deprivation.2 Turning points away from an antisocial lifestyle include getting a job, getting married, moving to a better area, …

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