Criminal Justice News

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Effects of Child Maltreatment, Cumulative Victimization Experiences, and Proximal Life Stress on Adult Crime and Antisocial Behavior

Authors: Todd I. Herrenkohl, Ph.D., Hyunzee Jung, Ph.D., Jungeun Olivia Lee, Ph.D., Moo-Hyun Kim, MSW


This study sought to replicate and extend research findings on subtypes of child maltreatment, childhood exposure to domestic violence, subsequent forms of victimization, and stress in relation to antisocial behavior, crime, and adulthood intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization.

The study also investigated protective factors for maltreated children and predictors of self-reported crime desistence among maltreated and multiply victimized children.

The goals of this project were:
1.         To prospectively examine the effects of child maltreatment and childhood exposure to domestic violence on antisocial behavior, crime, and adulthood IPV perpetration and victimization;
2.         To prospectively examine the influence of cumulative victimization experiences on these outcomes in adulthood;
3.         To examine the extent to which proximally and earlier measured household and environmental stresses predict and help explain the effects of early forms of victimization on the proposed outcomes;
4.         To examine resilience in maltreated and multiply victimized children using a dynamic, life course model;
5.         To comprehensively examine where and how gender moderates the relation between predictors and outcomes of the proposed aims.

The findings show further evidence of the relationship between child maltreatment and adult antisocial behavior and crime, but also point to instances in which that relationship is influenced by other variables. Analyses raise the possibility that physical, emotional, and sexual abuse relate differently to self-reported crime and that predictors and pathways differ at times on the basis of gender.

The study also found that the associations between child maltreatment and later forms of victimization are influenced by the socialization of peers and partners to antisocial behavior, although factors implicated are not all the same for males and females.

Findings indicate the need for strengthening the educational experiences of vulnerable and at-risk youth—and keeping these youth connected and engaged in school through high school—to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors to lessen crime.

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