Academic Achievement

We have observed that many studies incidentally display differences in measures of academic performance between violent and nonviolent offenders, but very few authors have explicitly tested these differences statistically to see if violent offenders have lower academic achievement than nonviolent ones. Academic achievement levels among violent offenders are quite low, and half or more do not finish high school. An average of 9th grade education among violent offenders has been reported in numerous clinical studies (Huizinga & Jakob-Chien, 1998). Functional literacy levels are lower than expected, even given the lower reported years of schooling (Cunningham & Vigen, 2002). An early meta-analysis concluded that “children with lower academic performance offended more frequently, committed more serious and violent offenses, and persisted in their offending” (Maguin & Loeber, 1996, p. 145). Another meta-analysis of data on serious violent compared to other offenders suggests that while most nondelinquents receive As and Bs in school (est. 64%), serious nonviolent delinquents (49%) are less likely to do so, and serious violent delinquents are more likely to receive an average of Cs or worse (68%) (Huizinga & Jakob-Chien, 1998). Major reviews of risk factors list school attitude and performance as a predictor of violence (e.g., Lipsey & Derzon, 1998).

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