Paper Example on Developmental Pathways

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  555 Words
Date:  2022-06-26


According to Loeber and Burke (2011), "a developmental pathway is the orderly behavioral development between more than two problem behaviors with individuals differing in their propensity to progress along the successive problem behavior represented by the pathway during development. Thus, pathways are a window into dynamic rather than static individual differences in youths' progression to serious problem behaviors". It is a sieving process that leads to identify youths that develop a succession of specific problem behaviors, and those that develop fewer problems. In developmental pathways, less serious problems come before more serious problem behaviors. Therefore, the pathways explain how an individual moves from innocuous to serious problem behaviors (Loeber & Burke, 2011).

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The program for research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency is one of the most comprehensive studies to date, attempting to detail life to pathways leading to criminality. The program sought to understand serious delinquency, drug abuse and violence by examining how children develop within the context of school peers, family and community (Schmalleger, 2015). According to the study, the manifestation of disruptive behaviors in children and teenagers depends on age, reflecting a developing capability to display different behaviors with age (Schmalleger, 2015). The most significant result of the study is the finding that there are three separate development pathways to delinquency:

Authority Conflict Pathway: This is the first and the earliest occurring pathway. It is characterized by avoidance of, and conflict with the authority. The three stages of this pathway are sequential. The first stage involves defiant and stubborn behaviors such as refusal and disobedience. The last stage involves authority avoidance, such behaviors include running away from home and school absenteeism. The conflict pathway authority begins before the age of 12, after this age, some youths start to show behaviors consistent with the highest stage of this pathway (Schmalleger, 2015).

Covert Pathway: This pathway consists of a development sequence starting with minor covert behaviors such as lying and shoplifting. The second step involves property damage acts such as fire setting and vandalism. The final step involves serious criminal acts such as burglary.

Overt Pathway: This pathway involves increasingly aggressive behavior. The sequence begins with minor aggressions such as annoying others and bullying. Bullying escalates into physical fighting and violence as the juvenile progresses along this pathway. Later, it leads to more violent criminal acts like robbery, assault and rape.


Youth workers, parents, teachers, juvenile justice system and doctors may not be able to predict the development of delinquency behavior for the youths. However, with knowledge of the three pathways, as documented by research on the causes and correlates of delinquency, juvenile justice system can identify at an early stage, juveniles who appear to be at risk for late maladjustments and can distinguish them from youths with minor or transient problem behaviors. Pathways can also aid in the specification of the type of problem behavior that certain risk groups of youths are likely to experience next, understand why some youths get into less serious problem behavior temporarily and do not progress and why a proportion of youth escalate in problem behavior and become seriously affected.


Loeber, R., & Burke, J. D. (2011). Developmental Pathways in Juvenile Externalizing and Internalizing Problems. Journal of Research on Adolescence : The Official Journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence, 34-46.

Schmalleger, F. (2015). Criminology Today: An Integrative Introduction. New York: Pearson.

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