Former studies on the relationship between family functioning and developmental trajectories of antisocial behavior fail to take into account the change and stability of family functioning throughout adolescence. By analyzing the joint trajectories of family functioning and antisocial behavior among a large (N = 2229) sample of adolescent boys and girls which were followed in five consecutive waves from 11 to 21 years old, the present study is the first to incorporate stability and change in family functioning over the course of adolescence when examining the link between family functioning and various antisocial trajectories. Results show that the family climate—including family values, habits, and beliefs—stays relatively stable over the course of adolescence. Deviant boys with high levels of antisocial behavior in late childhood (age 11) that grow up in a stable and positive family climate are likely to desist from antisocial behavior over time, whereas deviant boys growing up with more familial distress are likely to remain deviant. In contrast, girls that show high levels of antisocial behavior in late childhood (age 11), as well as girls that start showing antisocial behavior in adolescence, are likely to grow up in families with more distress. Non-deviant girls growing up in a positive family climate, however, are more likely to stay non-deviant over the course of adolescence. Our results are in line with intervention studies that stress the importance of positive family environments for preventing antisocial behavior in adolescent boys and girls, and even for enhancing antisocial desistance across adolescence in deviant boys
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