A recent study from the Swiss Federal Statistical office, which followed young lawbreakers from 1999 until 2015 found a number of things that predicted the likelihood of someone committing another crime.
A study of 6,649 young lawbreakers born in 1992 found the chances of crime as an adult rose significantly with the number of juvenile offenses. The reoffending rate rose from 20% to 34% to 49% and to 64% for those judged guilty once, twice, three times, and four times or more, respectively.
The type of juvenile crime mattered too. Reoffending was higher for young people caught drug trafficking (42%) and committing road offenses (39%). Other juvenile crimes had a 30% chance of leading to crime in adulthood.
The biggest difference however was gender. 73% of the 6,649 young criminals were boys. Looking at the group when they were adults statisticians found 31% of the boys had reoffended compared to only 8% of girls.
Switzerland’s crime gender imbalance is similar to the US’s. FBI statistics show that 73% of those arrested in the US in 2014 were male.
The biological, sociological and psychological reasons for this difference are complex, however as a prison guard interviewed by the Economist put it, male prisoners look for bits of wire to make weapons to stab each other. Women look for wire to curl their eyelashes.