Extending the Integrated Maturation Theory of Desistance from Crime to Childhood and Adolescence

Publication Title

Adolescent Research Review

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



Antisocial behavior, Maturation, Prevention, Theory


Scholars have begun to use maturation as a framework for understanding why crime declines (e.g., desistance) after adolescence, but have largely not used the concept to understand antisocial behavior over the entire life-course. The Integrated Maturation Theory (IMT) brings this work together to demonstrate that as individuals develop into adulthood, they become less likely to engage in crime due to environmental and individual factors. This article demonstrates how IMT is also useful in explaining antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence. Utilizing the five domains of maturation within IMT (social role, civic, psychosocial, identity, and neurocognitive), the analysis shows how this perspective helps organize information on why individuals engage in crime and delinquency early in the life course in a more holistic manner, transforming the theory from a desistance from crime to a life-course perspective. As such, the theory helps organize information about risk factors for delinquency and crime throughout life, with clear implications for crime prevention and intervention.