Intergenerational offending: The case for exploring resistance

Catherine Flynn, Nina Van Dyke, Karen Gelb

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Intergenerational offending refers to the observed phenomenon that offending tends to run in families. As small groups of families have been shown to be responsible for a considerable proportion of crime, there has been a substantial amount of effort expended in researching both the prevalence and patterns of such crime. The mechanisms by which intergenerational continuity of offending is generated, however, are not well understood. Perhaps more importantly, there is even less understanding about those factors that may prevent intergenerational offending. Given the strong focus on examining risk factors for offending, the observation that the majority of children in families where there is parental offending do not go on to become offenders themselves seems to have become lost in the discussion. This article presents a brief overview of research that aims to understand the intergenerational transmission of offending, but then goes on to argue that we need to develop our understanding of protective factors and resistance as well if we are to improve our efforts at prevention. An understanding of the internal and external resources and strategies utilized by those who resist criminal behaviour will enable researchers and policy-makers to rigorously examine and verify these, and implement relevant supportive strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-154
Number of pages9
JournalProbation Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Desistance
  • Intergenerational offending
  • Protective factors
  • Resilience
  • Resistance
  • Risk factors

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