Research

Dr. Maria Ttofi

University Lecturer in Psychological Criminology

Data Protection Officer for Criminology

BA 2000, BA 2005, MPhil 2006, PhD 2009


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Research

Programme Evaluation and Crime Prevention

A major part of Maria's work focuses on intervention research and programme evaluation, with a special interest in the effectiveness of bullying prevention programmes. She completed, in collaboration with Professor David P. Farrington, a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effectiveness of school-based prevention programmes in reducing bullying perpetration and victimization. Project outputs are available in a comprehensive report for the Campbell Collaboration (53 different programme evaluations included in the systematic review; 44 evaluations included in the meta-analysis) and in a shorter journal article in the Journal of Experimental Criminology. Key features of implementation (e.g. methodological design, duration of the intervention, etc) and key intervention components (e.g. teacher training, parent training, anti-bullying videos, classroom rules etc) were correlated with effect sizes in an effort to explain what works best, for whom and under what circumstances.

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Maladjustment in Adult Life

Another major part of her research focuses on developmental and life-course criminology. Most of her work in this research area has so far revolved around: (a) the developmental course and consequences of early behaviour problems (with a special focus primarily on aggressive behaviour of children and adolescents); and (b) the detrimental effects of early negative life experiences of children on later development (with a focus primarily on bullied children and adolescents).

Maria has conducted a series of interconnected systematic reviews and meta-analyses of longitudinal studies on the association of school aggression and victimization with internalizing (e.g. depression and anxiety) and externalizing (e.g. delinquency, violent and criminal offending) problems in adult life. Part of her British Academy Project on 'Health and Criminal Outcomes of School Bullying' involved the accumulation of co-ordinated early risk factors research, based on about 30 major prospective longitudinal studies regarding the development of conduct problems, crime and violence through the life course. The main outcomes of this project appear in two edited volumes of peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research and the Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, in collaboration with Professors Farrington and Lösel, as well as in a comprehensive report conducted under the aegis of the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. The latter report complemented the previous JACPR and CBMH meta-analyses by providing results of two additional meta-analyses.

Protective Factors interrupting the Continuity from School Aggression to Offending and Depression in Adult Life

Youth aggression and peer victimization are significant risk markers for a range of anti-social, criminal and adverse health outcomes later in life. It is therefore imperative to investigate protective factors that interrupt this continuity and that confer resilience on aggressive and/or victimized youth. This is the essence of an edited volume that was carried out for the Journal of School Violence. The special issue presents results on resilience and protective factors against the negative impact of youth aggression and peer victimization based on data from major prospective longitudinal studies from Europe, Australia and the United States. The aim of this edited work is to guide intervention work by identifying key protective factors that promote positive outcomes among vulnerable children, and in particular for school bullies and victimized children at school.

Criminal Careers in Self-Reports Compared with Official Records

The two most common measurement methods for the key variable of offending are to use official records of arrests/convictions or self-reports of offending. These two methods have different advantages and problems. A key question concerns the agreement between official records and self-reports. While self-reports reveal more offenders and offences, to what extent do the worst offenders according to self-reports coincide with the worst offenders according to official records? And to what extent are risk factors similar for self-reported and official offending? If a risk factor predicts official but not self-reported offending, is it predicting the likelihood of an offender being convicted? If a risk factor predicts self-reported but not official offending, is it predicting the likelihood that an offender will admit an offence? These questions are addressed in a 2014 edited volume in Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, in which main findings from major prospective longitudinal studies (from Europe, Canada, the States and Australia) are presented.

Resilience against General Offending and Violence

Why do people refrain from crime? Resilience (the dynamic process of encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity) has shaped criminological thinking about why individuals abstain from crime in spite of childhood adversities. Resilience and desistance models have also shaped our criminological thinking on 'turning points' that enable individuals to escape their delinquent lifestyles later in life. In a 2016 edited volume in the Journal of Criminal Justice, the focus is on protective factors against involvement in crime and violence although, admittedly, research on protective factors that facilitate desistance from a deviant lifestyle is of equal importance. Systematic investigations of protective factors against youth offending and violence are presented based on the co-ordinated efforts of research teams from eleven major prospective longitudinal studies in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.