The interplay between early language and temperamental difficulties in the prediction of severe antisocial behavior among males

date02 May 2017
publishedDate02 May 2017
AuthorDylan B. Jackson
The interplay between early language
and temperamental difficulties in the
prediction of severe antisocial behavior
among males
Dylan B. Jackson
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examinewhether early language deficits increase the risk of severe
antisocial behavior among male children, and whether this association varies as a function of negative
temperament during infancy.
Design/methodology/approach Data are derived from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study,
Birth Cohort. Both survey methods and direct observations were employed to obtain the data. Logistic
regression was used to examine the research questions at hand.
Findings Male children with oral vocabulary and grammatical/syntactic deficits during the toddler years
exhibited more frequent antisocial behavior across home and school settings during kindergarten, relative to
boys without language deficits. However, this relationship was limited to males who manifested negative
temperament/affect during their infancy, as reported on by both parents and independent raters.
Originality/value Prior research on language, temperament, and antisocial behavior has generally
overlooked the potential for these early-life risk factors for subsequent offending to interact with each other.
The findings of the present study suggest that early intervention and prevention efforts should account
for ways in which individual temperamental differences can structure behavioral responses to
cognitive challenges.
Keywords Interaction, Antisocial behaviour, Language, Childhood,
Neuropsychological deficits, Temperament
Paper type Research paper
A large body of research has revealed that early language impairment is predictive of behavioral
problemsduring childhood (Beaveret al., 2014; Chow and Wehby, 2016; Morgan et al., 2015) and
later life stages (Brownlie et al., 2004). Children who manifest such language difficulties, even during
the first few years of life, are more likely to exhibit deficits in executive functioning (Henry et al., 2012),
become socially maladjusted (Beaver et al., 2014), and perform poorly on academic tasks
(Sciberras et al., 2014), all of which increase the risk of conduct problems (Kalvin et al.,2016;
Menting et al., 2011; Schoemaker et al.,2013;vanLieret al., 2012). Despite the literature linking
language and other neuropsychological deficits to antisocial behavior, few studies have explored
factors that might enhance or diminish the association between neuropsychological and behavioral
difficulties (Jackson and Newsome, 2016; Prior et al., 2011). Moreover, very few scholars have
considered whether preexisting temperamental factors alter childrens ability to cope with early
language difficulties and associated challenges (see Healey et al., 2009, 2011). The present study
seeks to examine whether the association between early language deficits and severe antisocial
behavior differs across males with and without temperamental/affective difficulties during infancy,
and therefore represents a step toward addressing this oversight in the literature.
Received 1 November 2016
Revised 26 November 2016
Accepted 28 November 2016
Dylan B. Jackson is an
Assistant Professor at the
Department of Criminal Justice,
University of Texas at San
Antonio, San Antonio,
Texas, USA.
PAG E 70
VOL. 7 NO. 2 2017, pp. 70-80, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 DOI 10.1108/JCP-11-2016-0037

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