Are young adults with DLD more or less likely to commit criminal offenses?

Winstanley, M., Webb, R. T., & Conti‐Ramsden, G. (2018). More or less likely to offend? Young adults with a history of identified developmental language disorders. International journal of language & communication disorders, 53(2), 256-270.

Aim of the paper:

Previous research tells us that a surprisingly large number of juvenile offenders have undetected and undiagnosed language disorders. This means these young people did not receive any language intervention. This paper looks at whether young adults with identified DLD who received intervention during their school years are more likely to have contact with local police services, to engage in substance use, rule breaking behaviour and aggression. This paper compared these young adults with DLD to peers without DLD at the age of 24.

What they found:

  • Young adults with identified DLD who received intervention during school years are 2.5 times less likely to have been in trouble with the polices compared to their peers without DLD.

  • Young adults with DLD do not differ from their peers without DLD in terms of substance use and rule breaking behaviour.

  • Young adults with DLD have higher aggression score than their peers without DLD. But there is no difference between the two groups when only considering severe aggression that requires clinical intervention.

What does this mean?

The results from this paper show that people with DLD do not have a higher risk of contact with local police compared to people without DLD.

The authors suggest that early identification and intervention for DLD may reduce the likelihood of offending. They believe that this is because early intervention programmes may help children develop skills that might prevent later offending, such as emotional self-regulation. Emotional self-regulation is the ability to regulate emotions within ourselves according to different social situations.

However, this paper is the first published study on the relationship between identified DLD and offending in the UK. More research is needed to confirm that early identification and intervention for DLD really reduces the likelihood of offending.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.