This study examined the association between childhood ADHD and juvenile delinquency by examining data from the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS), a follow-up study of individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood (ages 5-12) and recontacted in adolescence and young adulthood for yearly follow-up (age at first follow-up interview M=17.26, SD=3.17). Participants were 288 males with childhood ADHD and 209 demographically similar males without ADHD who were recruited into the follow-up study. Delinquency information gathered yearly during the second through eighth follow-up provided a comprehensive history of juvenile delinquency for all participants. Four childhood diagnostic groups [ADHD-only (N=47), ADHD+ODD (N=135), ADHD+CD (N=106), and comparison (N=209)] were used to examine group differences on delinquency outcomes. Analyses were conducted across three dimensions of delinquency (i.e., severity, age of initiation, and variety). Individuals with childhood ADHD+CD displayed significantly worse delinquency outcomes than the other three groups, across almost all indices of offending. When compared to comparison participants, boys with ADHD-only and ADHD+ODD in childhood displayed earlier ages of delinquency initiation, a greater variety of offending, and higher prevalence of severe delinquency. These findings suggest that although childhood ADHD+CD creates the greatest risk for delinquency, boys with ADHD-only and ADHD+ODD also appear at a higher risk for later offending. The patterns of offending that emerged from the PALS are discussed in the context of the relationship between ADHD, comorbidity, and delinquency.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health