Childhood behavioral conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder are linked with an increased risk of being convicted of a felony later in life, with heavy drinking and educational failure contributing to this link.

The findings, which come from an analysis of 4,644 men, suggest that substance use and educational disengagement in adolescence operate as stepping stones toward adult criminality among behaviorally disordered children.

"We think the findings are important because they suggest potential avenues for preventing antisocial children from becoming life-course persistent offenders," said Dr. Jukka Savolainen, lead author of the Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health study.

Savolainen J., Mason W. A., Bolen J. D., Chmelka M. B., Hurtig T., Ebeling H., Nordström T. and Taanila A. (2014) The path from childhood behavioural disorders to felony offending: Investigating the role of adolescent drinking, peer marginalisation and school failure, Crim Behav Ment Health, doi: 10.1002/cbm.1931.