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Comparing Self-Reports and Offical Records of Arrests

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 16 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2000 Pages: 87-110
Date Published
March 2000
24 pages

This study compared measures of self-reported arrests and official arrests for 676 young adults with a history of child abuse, child neglect, or both and for 520 nonabused and nonneglected controls who were matched on age, sex, race, and approximate family social class.


Results revealed considerable overall concurrent validity between the two groups. However, the findings also indicated differences by gender, race/ethnicity, age at time of arrest, conviction status, and type of offense. Abused and neglected participants did not appear to differ from the control group in the extent of underreporting of known offenses; however, the groups did differ in the degree of positive bias in terms of offenses not revealed in arrest records. Abused and neglected participants self-reported proportionately more offenses not known to the police than did the controls. This result suggested that findings from previous studies on the relationship between childhood victimization and later criminality, as measured by arrests, may have underestimated the magnitude of this relationship. Tables, figure, footnotes, and 33 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: March 1, 2000