Delinquent behavior, according to legal definitions, includes such acts as robbery, assault, property damage, drug possession, and other similar crimes committed by youth. Delinquency also includes what are known as status offenses, which are acts considered to be rule violations because individuals who commit them are not of legal age. Examples of typical status offenses include drinking alcohol, smoking, and truancy. Although delinquency is technically defined as a single law-breaking act, researchers have found that some youths' delinquent behavior is of sufficient frequency and severity to represent an identifiable pattern of behavior that becomes apparent at an early age. Indeed, as early as the 1950s, important research by experts such as William McCord and Joan McCord began to identify factors that helped explain an early onset pattern of antisocial and delinquent behavior. This research cited harsh parenting as a leading contributor to the development of this pattern.

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