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Does Child Abuse and Neglect Increase Risk for Perpetration of Violence Inside and Outside the Home?

NCJ Number
Psychology of Violence Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2015 Pages: 246-255
Izabela Milaniak; Cathy Spatz Widom
Date Published
July 2015
10 pages
This study examined the extent to which abused and neglected children perpetrate three different types of violence within and outside the home (criminal violence, child abuse, and intimate partner violence) and determined whether childhood maltreatment leads to an increased risk for poly-violence perpetration.
The study found that compared with the control group, individuals with histories of child abuse and/or neglect were significantly more likely to be poly-violence perpetrators, perpetrating violence in all three domains (relative risk = 1.26). All forms of childhood maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse and neglect) significantly predicted poly-violence perpetration. These findings expand the cycle of violence literature by combining the distinct literatures on criminal violence, child abuse, and partner violence to call attention to the phenomenon of poly-violence perpetration by maltreated children. Future research should examine the characteristics of maltreated children who become poly-violence perpetrators and mechanisms that lead to these outcomes. The study used data from a prospective cohort design study, children (ages 0-11) with documented histories of physical and sexual abuse and/or neglect (n = 676) were matched with children without such histories (n = 520) and assessed in young adulthood (average age 29). Official criminal records in conjunction with self-report data were used to assess violent outcomes. (Publisher abstract modified)