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Childhood Victimization and Delinquency, Adult Criminality, and Violent Criminal Behavior: A Replication and Extension, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
71 pages
This study examined issues related to delinquency, adult criminality, and violence in a new cohort of abused and/or neglected children and matched controls, representing a different geographic area (Northwest), time period (1980's), and ethnic composition (included Native-American youth).
In addition to examining the prevalence of delinquency, adult criminality, and violence in the cohort, the study addressed the extent to which there were gender and ethnic differences in the relationship between childhood victimization and crime and violent offending; and it determined the extent to which different types of maltreatment were associated with the increased risk of subsequent delinquent, adult, and violent criminal behavior. The extent to which placement experience mediated delinquent and criminal consequences was also examined. Substantiated cases of child abuse and/or neglect (n=877) from court dependency records during the years 1980-84 were selected from court files in a large urban area in Washington State. A control group of children matched on age, race/ethnicity, gender, and approximate family social class were also identified. Juvenile and adult arrest data were collected from local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies through 1998 (approximately 15-24 years following dependency). The findings strongly support the relationship between child abuse and neglect and delinquency, adult criminality, and violent criminal behavior. In the study sample, abused and neglected children were 4.8 times more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 2 times more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for a violent crime than matched controls. These findings replicate earlier findings regarding increases in the risk of criminal behavior for females as well as males. Abused and neglected youth from all three ethnicities (Caucasian, African-American, and Native-American) were at increased risk for being arrested as a juvenile and as an adult compared to non-abused and non-neglected children from the same ethnic background. Preliminary findings regarding placement status at dependency indicated that abused and neglected youth who were placed outside the home were at greater risk of subsequent arrest than abused and neglected youth who remained with their primary caregiver or parent. Policy implications of these findings are discussed. 13 tables, 3 figures, 32 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: January 1, 2001