Beyond educational attainment: The role of achievement and school absence in the development of criminal justice involvement.


Recent studies suggest that educational attainment may be protective against the development of adult criminality, particularly for children who are aggressive. Children with strong academic skills would also be less likely to commit criminal offenses, which might be due to the relation between achievement and education. Additionally, other risks (e.g., absences) may impact educational attainment. The current study examined the role of academic achievement and school absences in the developmental trajectory from childhood behavior and disadvantaged environments to adult criminal offending. This study included 1,050 participants (52% women) from the Concordia Longitudinal Research Project in Montréal, Quebec. We found that academic achievement and absences were important contributors to educational attainment. The relations between childhood factors (e.g., aggression, likeability, withdrawal, and neighborhood disadvantage) and criminal justice involvement were mediated by achievement, absences, and education. The specific paths from achievement and absences to criminal charges differed for men and women, whereby men with high absences or low achievement scores, were at the highest risk. Implications for early preventive intervention focused on educational attainment are discussed.

Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science