By Ann S. Masten, Norman Garmezy (auth.), Benjamin B. Lahey, Alan E. Kazdin (eds.)

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Nor did the majority of future delinquents corne from the small group of children initially identified as prone to later antisocial behavior. West and Farrington (1973) capture the risk factors implicated in delinquency-proneness in very young children in the following observation: Our research has shown that, at least by the age of 8, and probably even before they begin to go to school, some boys are marked out as potential recidivists. Typically, they are socially and intellectually backward, the product of poor homes with too many children, and reared by parents whose standards of care, supervision and training are woefully inadequate.

Each is currently used in various ways, ranging from a narrow to a broad focus. When risk is defined narrowly in psychopathology research, it refers to the risk for a specific disorder. Vulnerability similarly can be narrowly defined in terms of the measurable susceptibility to a specific disorder. In the schizophrenia literature, for example, there are studies of children at risk for this disorder, identified by the risk factor of a biological parent who has the disorder. There is also an intense research effort directed at finding markers that would identify children vulnerable to schizophrenia.

Another focus of research interest has been the interactions between the high-risk infant and caregiver. Parke and Tinsley (1982) and Sameroff (1980) have emphasized the need for broader transactional models with attendant research that encompass the multiple levels of the social or environmental context in which development is embedded. Studies of the interaction between preterm infants and stressed caregivers (Field, 1980, 1983; Sigman & Parmalee, 1979) represent high stress-high risk strategies from a transactional perspective.

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