PARENTS

'Simple Test' To See If Your Child Could Be A Criminal 'Makes A Mockery Of Parenting', Psychologist Argues

Would your child opt for the immediate payout?

18/05/2016 13:42

A simple test that claims to determine whether a child is going to take part in "criminal activity" makes a "mockery of parenting", a psychologist has argued.

The test is derived from a study by Stockholm University, in which researchers looked at the records of 6,749 Swedish men, all of whom had taken the same questionnaire when they were aged 13 in 1966. 

They looked at the answer to one specific question, which asked: "Would you rather get 900 Swedish krona right now (about £75) or 9,000 krona in five years (about £750)?"

The researchers found the boys who wanted the "immediate payout" had a "significantly higher risk of criminal involvement later in life".

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"A stronger need for immediate gratification significantly predicts criminal activity," the researchers wrote, explaining that "time preference" is one of the most basic predictions of almost all models of crime. 

They added: "The link is much stronger for property crime (as opposed to violent offences), and among males with low intelligence."

Since the study has been released, some publications have argued parents can use this "simple test" to find out if their child is likely to engage in criminal activity. 

However Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children, said using this test to identify whether a child will become a criminal is "far fetched".

"The idea of pre-determining a child's destiny makes a mockery of education, parenting and everything in between, because it acts as if it's set in stone," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"While there are character traits you do want to look out for in children and address them at early points like lying, stealing or shoplifting, it doesn't mean they're going to turn into a criminal.

"It is good to be on the lookout for early signs in children, such as these, so parents and teachers can take steps to make sure the behaviour issues are addressed.

"But saying you can identify whether a child will be a criminal is very unhelpful." 

SEE ALSO:

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