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Salud mental

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3325


JUAREZ GARCIA, Francisco et al. Tendencias de la conducta antisocial en estudiantes del Distrito Federal: mediciones 1997-2003. Salud Ment [online]. 2005, vol.28, n.3, pp.60-68. ISSN 0185-3325.


This paper analyses the evolution of antisocial behavior within the context of representative cross-sectional studies in student population from Mexico City. Surveys with students have collected data about substance use and related factors. The latter is associated with antisocial behavior and delinquency eating disorders, risk sexual behavior, and suicide attempt.

Statistics on younger offenders show an increased number of subjects presented before law institutions, meaning that they have been prosecuted somehow (there were 2623 cases in 1999, and 3506 in 2003). At the same time, there is a decrease in the age for committing these faults which are becoming more serious; a larger number of homicides, raping, and carrying weapons have been reported.

The objective of this paper is to present tendencies of antisocial behavior through data obtained from three different representative surveys in junior high school and high school students from Mexico City (1997, 2000, and 2003). Surveys were held by the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría Ramón de la Fuente and by the Secretaría de Educación Pública.


The analysis unit considered for this study was the student himself coming from state and private schools. Three levels were studied: junior high school, high school, and technical schools.

Sample design was planned based on the evaluation of drug use tendencies in the students from this population, determining the level of contribution of each district in the city. Schools were randomly selected in each of the 16 districts. Sample design was stratified, two-staged, and in clusters. Stratification variable was the level of the school. First selection unit was the school, and second was the school group. Sample was self-weighted using the city district as the weigh variable.

Three probabilistic samples were obtained, representing each one of the districts and education level: 1997 sample, N=10173; 2000 sample, N = 10578; 2003 sample, N=10659. Outcome rate in each measure was 97% in 1997, 95% in 2000, and 98% in 2003. Age mean in the three samples was 14.6 years old, and equivalence men-women was similar in the three studies.

Questionnaire used has been validated before, and its basic indicators have maintained consistency through different researches. Socioeconomic and antisocial behavior data were used for this study.

Two factors previously obtained were used. The first one was called Violence and Thieving Behaviors, this one includes picking things worth 50 pesos or less, taking things from a store without paying for them, damaging other people's property, punching or hurting someone, being involved in fights, and using firing objects. The second factor was called Serious Antisocial Behaviors, and it included: picking things worth 500 pesos ormore, breaking locks, attacking someone using an object or weapon, selling drugs, and using a knife or gun to rob someone. These factors have been already used and have shown good consistency.

The survey operative design included a main coordinator, supervisors, and pollsters who were trained on conceptual issues about addiction, project background and objectives, instrument use, instructions for interviewing, and group selection. Emphasis was made on proper instructions for subjects, as well as remarks for anonymity and confidentiality in handling information.

Inconsistent questionnaires were corrected or eliminated. Intelligent software was used for registering data, which verified that the answers were coherent.


There was a 2% increase in antisocial behaviors among students between 1997 and 2000; the most notorious raise was observed in behaviors from factor Violence and Thieving, which fluctuated between .57% and 1.8%. From 2000 to 2003 there was a raise of 6.7% for any antisocial behavior, and the increase was again more notorious in Violence and Thieving (6.5%).

There were minor increases in the second factor, though these were important. For instance, picking things worth 500 pesos or more, and attacking someone had a bigger raise in 2000 and 2003, while breaking locks had its bigger raise between 1997 and 2000. No changes were observed for selling drugs and using a knife or gun to rob someone.

There was a 2.47% increase for any antisocial behavior in men between 1997 and 2000, basically in the factor Violence and Thieving. From 2000 to 2003 this increase raised to 7.36%, observed again in the Violence and Thieving factor.

In the case of women, there was only an increase in two behaviors between 1997 and 2000: picking things for 50 pesos or less and breaking locks. From 2000 to 2003 there was an important increase in behaviors pertaining to Violence and Thieving (5.71%), to be involved in fights had the highest increase. Between 2000 and 2003, women participated in more serious acts.

The proportion of students behaving antisocially was calculated considering the districts. The district of Tlalpan had the only increase observed between 1997 and 2000. Significant raise was observed in almost every district (except for Cuajimalpa and Gustavo A. Madero) from 2000 to 2003. Venustiano Carranza, Benito Juarez, Iztacalco, and Alvaro Obregon had the biggest increase. Variations are the same for both factors.


This study allows to see the changes in antisocial behavior rates in Mexico City students from 1997 to 2003. Slight variations were found in some behaviors between 1997 and 2000, there were no modifications in others. However, there was an important raise from 2000 to 2003, which is bigger if compared to 1997.

Increase in antisocial behavior is similar for men and women, although proportion is unequal yet; almost two men for every woman. When considering district as a control variable, Benito Juarez and Tlalpan show the higher prevalences on any antisocial behavior. This situation is similar for Violence and Thieving. In the case of Serious Antisocial Behaviors, Venustiano Carranza and Azcapotzalco had the higher prevalences.

It is important to fully understand the reasons of adolescents for behaving antisocially. Apparently the conditions facilitating this type of behaviors are not only related to marginalization and social disadvantage, but to others, such as new interaction ways, which favor the search for exciting sensations and hiding from supervision. This includes involvement in risk behaviors, such as unsafe sexual intercourse, drug use, violence, and burgling.

It is necessary to go deeper into these new forms of antisocial behavior and to work more in prevention as an attempt to counteract present tendencies of this issue.

Palabras llave : Antisocial behavior; adolescents; students; surveys.

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