Since maltreatment during childhood has been linked to adverse outcomes later in life, including delinquent and criminal behaviors, the current study examined trajectories of delinquent and criminal behavior from adolescence into young adulthood, tested its association with self-reported experiences of childhood maltreatment, and assessed whether hypothesized protective factors affected the link between maltreatment and delinquent and criminal behaviors.
The data were obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a nationally representative longitudinal study of a sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the 1994-95 school year. They were interviewed at three key developmental junctures from adolescence to young adulthood. Self-reported data were used to measure maltreatment and delinquent or criminal behaviors. Growth curves of the frequency of violent and nonviolent offending were modeled from ages 13 to 30. For nonviolent delinquent or criminal behaviors, both gender and sexual orientation moderated trends over time; males and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ) youth were more likely to commit nonviolent offenses. When maltreatment was included, an increasing slope indicated that adolescents who experienced more maltreatment had a faster rate of change in their likelihood of engaging in nonviolent offending; the increase was steeper for maltreated males. School connection, high-quality relationships with mother or father figures, and neighborhood collective efficacy were protective factors irrespective of prior maltreatment and sociodemographic variables assessed. 10 tables, 9 figures, and 82 references
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Date Published: December 1, 2018