A combination of parental warmth and strong parental supervision reduces the link in first-time male young offenders between a lack of remorse, guilt and empathy and later delinquent behaviour.

James Ray at the University of Texas at San Antonio, USA, studied 1,216 first-time juvenile offenders three times in the course of a year. He and his team found that 26% of the link between callous/unemotional traits and delinquent behaviour could be explained by the young offenders’ association with delinquent peers. But the influence of delinquent peers disappeared when parental warmth and supervision were present.

But the effect occurred only when parental warmth and supervision were both present. Parental warmth without supervision actually strengthened the links between callous/unemotional traits, association with delinquent peers and delinquent behaviour. It appears that warm but permissive parenting makes matters worse.

This study highlights the importance of parenting in managing youthful offenders, particularly young offenders who associate with delinquent peers.

Header photo: Kill Pop. Creative Commons.


Ray JV, Frick PJ, Thornton LC, Wall Myers TD, Steinberg L & Cauffman E (2016), Callous–unemotional traits predict self-reported offending in adolescent boys: The mediating role of delinquent peers and the moderating role of parenting practices, Developmental Psychology