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Institute of Criminology


Can developmental criminology help prevent violence in high-violence societies?

Findings from four decades of research following 20,000 families in Brazil

with Professor Joseph Murray

Human Development and Violence Research Centre & Postgraduate Programme in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil 

and discussant, Wolfson Professor Manuel Eisner

Director of the Institute of Criminology and Director of Violence Research Centre

Register to attend in person via Eventbrite here.

Register to attend this webinar via zoom here.



Developmental criminology has made major progress in identifying important early determinants of crime and violence, and effective preventive interventions. However, nearly all major longitudinal studies have been conducted in high-income countries, with relative low levels of violence. Identifying the causes of violence and effective solutions in high-violence societies is critical to significantly reduce global levels of violence. In Latin America, homicide is the leading cause of death among young people. In Brazil, over 1 million people died by homicide in the last two decades. This seminar addresses whether developmental criminology can help understand and prevent criminal violence in this setting, using data from the four Pelotas Birth Cohort Studies, including over 20,000 children followed longitudinally from birth, in Southern Brazil. The older two Pelotas cohorts include self-report and official measures of crime and violence, with homicide records to age 30 years. The two younger cohorts include detailed data on child and family processes linked to the development of aggression and violence. Child, family, and socioeconomic risk factors identified in high-income countries do correlate with the development of behaviour problems in this setting. However, serious violence and murder appear most influenced by the social context in the transition to adulthood, suggesting the importance of Brazil’s structural inequalities, ineffective criminal justice system, weak democratic institutions, and links to international drug markets, for understanding and reducing its high rates of violence.

Thursday, 11 May, 2023 - 17:00 to 18:30
Event location: 
Seminar Rooms B3 & B4, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge