Dyslexia is a strong risk factor for delinquency and criminality, with studies showing that fifty percent or more of offenders may suffer from the reading disorder. A new study indicates, moreover, that the behavior problems common in dyslexic children begin at an early age.
Einar Heiervang and colleagues evaluated 25 dyslexic children between the ages of 10 and 12, and an age-matched control group. Teachers, parents, and the children themselves filled out reports on the children's behavior problems.
"The dyslexic group had significantly more behavior problems than the control group, according to both the Child Behavior Checklist and the Teacher Self Report," the researchers report. Increased scores were seen for total behavior problems, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and attention problems. These differences remained significant when the researchers controlled for differences in social background, prenatal risk factors, birth weight, preschool language problems, and IQ.
"We conclude," Heiervang and colleagues say, "that pre-adolescent dyslexic children show a wide range of behavior problems that cannot be attributed to social or developmental background variables."
In a related study, Scottish researchers Jane Kirk and Gavin Reid report that 25 of 50 young inmates they evaluated were "dyslexic to some degree," as compared to only 4 to 10 percent of the general population of Scotland. Their findings are consistent with previous research (see related articles, Crime Times, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 4, Page 1 and Crime Times, 2000, Vol. 6, No. 4, Page 3.)
"Behaviour problems in children with dyslexia," E. Heiervang, J. Stevenson, A. Lund, and K. Hugdahl, Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 55, No. 4, 2001, 251-6. Address: Einar Heiervang, Department of Psychiatry, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
"An examination of the relationship between dyslexia and offending in young people and the implications for the training system," J. Kirk and G. Reid, Dyslexia, Vol. 7, No. 2, April-June 2001, 77-84. Address: Jane Kirk, University of Edinburgh, 3 South College Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AA, Scotland.