Second-born children more likely to be criminals, study says
Second born children are more likely to get in trouble at school and have run-ins with the law later in life as opposed to their older siblings.
That’s according to the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers from MIT, Northwestern, the University of Florida, and others which followed thousands of sets of brothers in Denmark and the state of Florida.
Second-born boys in both locations are more apt to run afoul of authority figures than their older peers, it was found.
In families with two or more children, second-born boys are on the order of 20 to 40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system compared to first-born boys, despite the differences in environments across the two areas, researchers found.
The authors theorise that the higher risk of delinquency could be due to the fact that second-born children do not receive the one-on-one focus and doting that their older siblings did, causing them to act out as a way to get their parents to focus on them.
It was also noted that parents take more time off work when they have their first child compared to when they have their second child. Furthermore, second-borns are not only competing with their older sibling for attention, but also competing with careers and other responsibilities.
The study authors also say that second-borns might act out more because they look up to their older sibling. Whereas first-borns look to adults as their first role models.
In other words, the oldest child spends more developmental time around adults, which, in turn, influences them to behave more maturely.
A second-born, on the other hand, will be looking to a toddler or a school-age child as a role model. Or one who will naturally be more impulsive and egotistical.
It comes as no surprise that previous research has found that oldest siblings tend to be smarter than their younger sisters and brothers. The reason? Parents, naturally, spend more time alone with their first children—giving them their undivided attention.
But, before parents start to panic, here’s some good news.
National Public Radio’s Social Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam assured listeners that second child crime sprees are not a significant concern. Even though studies can show a 25 to 40 percent increase in the possibility of poor behaviour choices and consequences, the overall numbers remain small.
Only a minority of children – about 1 in 10, 1 in 20, are getting in serious trouble. However, the study is saying that among this minority of children, there appear to be sizable differences between first- and second-born brothers.