Anti-social behaviour is a key issue of public concern with significant numbers of people reporting behaviours such as vandalism, graffiti and litter as problems in their local area.
The Crime and Disorder Act (1998) defines anti-social behaviour as
‘Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as (the defendant).’
The researchers in this study were interested in exploring whether there were any differences in rates of anti-social behaviour among adolescents with or without mild to moderate learning disability, They wanted to know whether it as possible to estimate whether any differences could be attributable to differences in exposure to extraneous risk factors.
In order to look at the impact of these differences, what they did was use the data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, a major panel study of young people.
They were able to identity people with mild to moderate learning through data linkage with educational records and use this for their analysis
What they found was that the parents of children with mild to moderate learning disabilities were more likely to report police contact.
They found that children with mild to moderate learning disabilities were more likely to self-report fighting or public disturbance, shoplifting and graffiti.
In order to estimate whether any differences could be attributable to differences in exposure to extraneous risk factors, they analysed their results controlling for these differences and found that having mild to moderate learning disabilities was associated with increased rates of police contact and self-reported graffiti.
They found that however, no difference in self-reported shoplifting, but reduced rates of self-reported fighting or public disturbance and vandalism.
This analysis led the authors to conclude therefore that differences in the rates of exposure to extraneous risk factors did play an important role in accounting for the differences they found in the self-reporting of anti-social behaviour among adolescents with and without mild to moderate learning disabilities.
Anti-Social Behaviour and Police Contact among 13- to 15-Year-old English Adolescents with and Without Mild/Moderate Intellectual Disability, Emerson E & Halpin S in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 26: 362–369