The association between maltreatment in childhood and criminal convictions to age 24: a prospective study of a community sample of males from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

Teresa C Silva, Peter Larm, Frank Vitaro, Richard E Tremblay, Sheilagh Hodgins
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2012, 21 (7): 403-13
While many studies have observed a positive association between maltreatment in childhood and criminality in adolescence and adulthood, others have failed to detect such an association. Most studies, however, have not examined different types of maltreatment, nor taken account of other family and childhood factors that are predictive of criminality. Using data from a prospective, longitudinal investigation of a community sample of 1,037 males, we calculated hierarchical logistic regression models to estimate the associations of boys' self-reports of neglect, emotional abuse, and physical abuse at ages 10 and 12, with convictions for criminal offenses from age 12 to 24, after taking account of conduct problems, hurtful and uncaring behaviours (HUB), and parent's criminality. At ages 10 and 12, boys' reports of neglect, emotional abuse, and physical abuse, were not associated with criminal convictions for non-violent or for violent crimes from age 12 to 24. Among boys who did not engage in HUB towards others reports of emotional abuse were associated with subsequent criminality, while this association disappeared among the boys engaging in such behaviours. In this community sample of males, levels of each type of maltreatment were low and there were no direct associations with subsequent criminal convictions. The findings add to emerging evidence that the characteristics of the child and parents, as well as the type of maltreatment modify the association with future criminal offending.

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