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Increasing evidence suggests that the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behaviour begins from the earliest childhood developmental periods. This chapter presents findings on the role of parental offending on offspring developmental vulnerability in early childhood. Data were drawn from the New South Wales Child Development Study, a large Australian population-based, multi-agency, intergenerational study that utilises administrative record linkage of data from multiple sources (i.e., criminal justice, health, welfare, and education). The present chapter focuses on the associations between parental criminal offending and offspring outcomes at age 5 years as measured by the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). The AEDC is a teacher-reported cross-sectional assessment that captured 99.9 per cent (N = 87,026) of the eligible New South Wales children entering kindergarten in the state of New South Wales in 2009, indexing early childhood developmental functioning across five domains (physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication and general knowledge). Results showed that both maternal and paternal offending were associated with offspring vulnerability on all five of the AEDC domains as well as on the aggression subdomain, even after accounting for other important risk factors (e.g., child sex, socio-economic disadvantage). Findings suggest that the effects of parental offending may be pervasive in early childhood, with multiple developmental outcomes affected, especially cognitive functioning. A second record linkage was conducted in 2016 to bring data up to age 12 years for the children, and we plan to conduct follow-up studies with the cohort into adulthood using successive waves of record linkage.


School of Psychology

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Book Chapter

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