182172 Linking child abuse and neglect to violent and non-violent offending in early adulthood

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Joshua P. Mersky, PhD , Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
James W. Topitzes, PhD , Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD , Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN
Research has shown that child maltreatment is associated with poor behavioral outcomes in childhood and adolescence. Few studies have examined the long-term impacts of maltreatment, or whether outcomes vary by the type or timing of maltreatment. This investigation uses prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel study of 1,539 minority children from low-income families, to address the following questions: (1) Is substantiated maltreatment (age 4-17) associated with criminal offending in early adulthood (age 18-24), including violent and non-violent outcomes? (2) Do offending patterns vary among physically abused and neglected children? (3) Do offending patterns vary by the age of first maltreatment report?

Results indicated that substantiated maltreatment was significantly associated with having an arrest conviction and with being incarcerated. Maltreatment also significantly predicted having a substance-related arrest conviction but did not predict having a violent arrest conviction. Neglect and physical abuse were significantly associated with all outcomes except violent offending. Earlier (ages 4-9) and later (ages 10-17) maltreatment indicators were significantly associated with increased conviction and incarceration rates. Yet, whereas earlier maltreatment was associated with substance-related and violent offending, later maltreatment was not. This study adds to emerging evidence linking child maltreatment overall, and both physical abuse and neglect specifically, to long-term behavioral problems. Results also indicate that offending patterns may vary by the timing of maltreatment. Findings suggest that programs designed to prevent maltreatment or mitigate its consequences may benefit from addressing multiple types of abuse and neglect and tailoring services to specific age groups.

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate associations between child maltreatment and criminal offending among young adults in a low-income, minority sample. 2. Articulate differential impacts attributable to the type and timing of maltreatment along with variable patterns of effects for violent and non-violent offending. 3. Discuss the implications of findings for programs designed to prevent maltreatment and/or ameliorate its impacts.

Keywords: Child Abuse, Crime

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am primarily responsible for the conceptualization of the study questions, statistical analyses, interpretation, and description of results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.