Teens Who Expect to Die Young Are More Likely to Commit Crime
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2014 May 13
A new study from the University of Texas at Dallas finds that teens who believe they will die young are more likely to commit crimes -- and more serious ones at that.
The study asked more than 1,300 serious juvenile offenders in Arizona and Pennsylvania one question: How long do you think you'll live? Their answers ranged from 16 to 200 years old. Researchers then checked in periodically with them over a period of seven years and asked about subsequent criminal activity.
The youths who went on to offend most were the ones with a short-term mentality. Notably, there was also a group of offenders -- those who could think long-term -- who successfully reformed.
"What that tells us is you can't just say all of these serious offenders are all bad and they're all going to be bad forever," said UTD criminologist Alex Piquero, who led the study.
Piquero said letting kids know "that your life now is not destiny" can make a difference.
"That's the take-home policy message from this: It's not a bleak thing," he said. "We can turn some of these kids around if we give them these opportunities and we give them these consistent messages."