Risk, promotive, and protective factors in youth offending: results from the Cambridge study in delinquent development

David P. Farrington, Maria M. Ttofi, Alex R. Piquero

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109 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The main aim of this research is to investigate risk, promotive, risk-based protective, and interactive protective factors for delinquency. Methods The Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development is a prospective longitudinal survey of 411 London males from age 8 onwards. Variables measured at age 8–10 are investigated as predictors of convictions between ages 10 and 18. Results High troublesomeness, a convicted parent, and high daring were important risk factors for delinquency, while low neuroticism and few friends were important promotive factors. The most important interactive protective effects were: high nonverbal intelligence, high verbal intelligence, high school attainment, and high parental interest in education protected against poor child-rearing; good parental supervision protected against high dishonesty; and high family income protected against a convicted parent. Conclusions Developmental and life-course theories of offending should attempt to explain findings on promotive and protective factors. Findings on interactive protective factors suggest particular types of interventions that should be targeted on individuals displaying particular risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Delinquency
  • Interactive effects
  • Longitudinal study
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors

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