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Risk assessment of antisocial behaviour in adolescence

Risk assessment of antisocial behaviour in adolescence

Research on risk assessment of antisocial behaviour in adolescence is closely linked to the VRAI protocol (Juvenile offender’s risk assessment) and its implementation. The VRAI protocol is a risk assessment tool designed for adolescents who are in compliance with juvenile justice measures. This protocol provides information on 24 risk factors, three protective factors and three other relevant variables to consider. Risk factors include historical factors (e.g., history of previous violence, history of child abuse, peer group rejection), psychosocial factors (e.g., inappropriate parental practices, peer group delinquency, lack of social support), and individual factors (e.g., impulsivity, callous-unemotional, attitudes towards violence). The protective factors are limited to psychosocial factors (i.e., involvement in prosocial behaviours, prosocial peers) and individual factors (coping skills). The other three variables (suicidal ideation, social desirability, lack of future expectations) are evaluated within the framework of the VRAI protocol because they are considered to be of special interest in the context of the assessment of the risk of delinquent behaviour in adolescent populations.

Main objective

To determine the risk level of antisocial behaviour in adolescents on the basis of different risk and protective factors.

Specific objectives

  • Evaluate the risk factors more strongly related to adolescent antisocial behaviour.
  • Identify different risk profiles on the basis of different risk and protective factors.
  • Develop prevention and intervention strategies adapted to the specific needs of the adolescent.

Sample of study

The first pilot study included a sample of 85 youngsters with different types of judicial measures in the Autonomous Community of Galicia. Of the total sample, 47 adolescents were on internment and 38 were on probation. This first pilot study led to the elaboration of the VRAIG protocol (Risk Assessment in Galician Adolescent Offenders). The VRAIG protocol laid the foundations for the elaboration of a more updated protocol, systematized and adapted to Information and Communication Technologies: the VRAI Protocol (Juvenile offender’s risk assessment). The sample used in this phase of study came from two Autonomous Communities of Spain (Galicia and Andalusia) and was composed of 340 youngsters in compliance with measures within the juvenile justice system and 150 in residential care centres of the Child Welfare System. In addition, a sample of 656 community adolescents was evaluated by means of the self-reported part of the VRAI Protocol. Furthermore, an international project allowed the adaptation of the original version of the VRAI Protocol for its use in Latin America, specifically in Peru.

Since 2014, the VRAI has been reviewed and updated on the basis of several pilot studies that provided valuable information for the development of a useful and practical tool in the field of adolescent risk assessment. All of this resulted in the VRAI 2.1 version, which is now ready to be implemented and evaluated, both in the juvenile justice and child welfare adolescent samples.


Both the technician version and the youth version of the VRAI include, firstly, a section to report about socio-demographic data and, secondly, a section to inform about the risk and protective factors. In regard to the technician version, the items were specifically developed for its inclusion in the Protocol. Regarding the youth version, all self-report scales were validated or previously used in this area of research. A detailed description of the scales used can be found in the VRAI manual.