as well as separate interviews with each parent, are integral to several standardized clinical (and forensic) assessments of children (McConaughy et al., 1988). In multiaxial approaches such as the DSM-III-R, such information can be used for classification on several axes. Moreover, interviews with the parents of children being assessed often reveal important observational information about the parents themselves.


Although practitioners and researchers often disagree about classifying persons who have committed relatively few violent acts, congruent findings have merged across disciplines about offenders who are relatively extreme on all dimensions of violent behavior—the rates at which they commit violent acts, the seriousness of the acts they commit, and their persistence. This section summarizes the congruent findings.

  1. Although many people may at some time in their lives commit a more or less violent act, the majority of people do not repeatedly commit violent acts. Age, sex, and race are important variables in differentiating between people who have and have not committed violent acts; among people who have already committed violent acts, age, sex, and race are less helpful in differentiating those who commit many violent acts from those who commit few.

  2. Persons who are repeatedly violent typically also demonstrate other forms of antisocial or self-destructive behavior, often starting in early childhood, even more frequently than they demonstrate violence toward others. The frequency and seriousness of these other forms of socially undesirable and self-destructive behaviors are indicative of the frequency and seriousness of their violent behavior.

  3. Not surprisingly, persons who are repeatedly violent are very visible to those with whom they frequently interact: peers, family members, and (for children and youth) teachers. However, perhaps because violence is episodic, practitioners who have short-term contact with people are not likely to be able to identify the violent ones based solely on personal observations.

  4. Persons who commit violent acts over long periods of time (persistent violence) are not necessarily the same people who commit numerous violent acts in relatively short periods of time (high-rate violence). Similarly, persons who cause or attempt to cause

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