The Dark Figure of Delinquency:New Evidence and Its Underlying Psychopathology

AuthorMolly Minkler,Taea Bonner,Matt DeLisi,Pedro Pechorro,Michael G. Vaughn
Published date01 October 2022
Date01 October 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
2022, Vol. 20(4) 279291
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/15412040221111328
The Dark Figure of Delinquency:
New Evidence and Its
Underlying Psychopathology
Molly Minkler
, Taea Bonner
, Matt DeLisi
, Pedro Pechorro
, and
Michael G. Vaughn
Although research on the dark gure of delinquency has produced valuable quantitative estim ates
of its size, prior research is mechanistic and atheoretical about the conceptual underpinnings of
the crimes that go undetected by the juvenile justice system. Drawing on data from 253 adju-
dicated youth in residential placements in the Midwestern United States, the current study found
that youth self-reported over 25 delinquent offenses for every one police contact. The dark gure
of delinquency has a wide distribution with some youth reporting upwards of 290 delinquent
offenses per police contact or arrest. Youth who exhibited more psychopathic features, who
displayed temperamental proles characterized by low effortful control and high negative
emotionality, males, and those who were older had larger dark gures of delinquency. Findings
provide support for general criminological theories that invoke psychopathy or temperament as
important individual-level drivers of delinquent conduct, much of which never results in juvenile
justice system intervention and thus never achieves legal resolution.
dark gure of crime, delinquency, temperament, psychopathy, measures of crime
The dark gure of crime is one of the simplest yet profound substantive and methodological issues
in criminology. The dark gure of crime captures the idea that the majority of antisocial acts and
their attendant victimizations in a population are hidden in the sense they are not detected by law
enforcement, and thus do not appear in ofcial arrest statistics or victimization surveys. For
example, comparison of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting Program
and the Bureau of Justice StatisticsNational Crime Victimization Survey across the most recent
Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA
University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, St Louis, MO, USA
Corresponding Author:
Matt DeLisi, Criminal Justice Studies, Iowa State University, 203A East Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070, USA.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT