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Understanding the Role of Neighborhood in the Long-Term Criminal Consequences of Childhood Maltreatment

NCJ Number
Date Published
184 pages
This dissertation questioned whether early childhood abuse combined with negative neighborhood structural characteristics is associated with an increased risk of developing antisocial behavior.
The two main goals of this research were to examine the effect of neighborhood structural characteristics on the long-term criminality of maltreated children and to examine whether neighborhood social mobility influenced the long-term criminality of maltreated children. The author hypothesized that, first, victims of early child maltreatment living in neighborhoods with negative structural characteristics would be more likely to develop criminal and violent behavior. The author defines negative structural characteristics as residential instability, ethnic heterogeneity, and low concentrated advantage. The second hypothesis was that neighborhood social mobility was a potential link between neighborhood factors and individual outcomes. Data were drawn from a database containing information about the consequences of child abuse and neglect. A total of 908 cases of child abuse and neglect are contained within the database for one Midwestern metropolitan area for the years 1967 through 1971. This data on child maltreatment were linked with area data from the 1970 and 1990 censuses. The findings support the hypothesis that aspects of neighborhood context are associated with later criminal offending. More specifically, high levels of concentrated disadvantage increases the risk of both criminal and violent offending. Furthermore, the results provide support for the fact that residential stability exacerbates the criminal and violent tendencies for maltreated children. Also, the findings show that neighborhood concentrated disadvantage exacerbates the development of criminal patterns associated with early childhood maltreatment. In conclusion, the author cautions that generalizations may not be easily made from this data, which represents official records and therefore, the most extreme cases of child maltreatment. References, appendices, tables

Date Published: January 1, 2002