Gender Differences in the Effect of Child Maltreatment on Criminal Activity over the Life Course
Families, Crime and Criminal Justice: Charting the Linkages
This paper adds to a growing body of knowledge regarding the criminal consequences of childhood victimization. A prospective research design is used to compare a group of maltreated youth to a matched control group in order to determine the extent to which child abuse and neglect influence both juvenile delinquency and adult crime. Controlling for race and sex, abused and neglected children are more likely to have a juvenile arrest record. In addition, controlling for involvement in juvenile crime, child maltreatment also influences adult criminality. Motivated by the findings of qualitative studies focusing on female offenders, I examine gender differences in these relationships and find substantial differences between the subgroups. For females, both abuse and neglect increase juvenile delinquency. Also, abuse and neglect influence adult criminality both directly and indirectly through involvement in juvenile delinquency. In contrast, only neglect influences the juvenile delinquency of males, and no form of child maltreatment directly effects adult male criminality. Generally, I conclude that child maltreatment is a much more substantial factor in subsequent criminal behavior of females as compared to males.
Spohn, Ryan E. 2000. “Gender Differences in the Effects of Child Maltreatment on Criminal Activity over the Life Course.” Pp. 207-231 in Families, Crime and Criminal Justice, Vol. 2, edited by G. L. Fox and M. L. Benson. New York: Emerald.
Volume 2 in series, Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research.
This version of the book chapter is a post-print. The final version can be found in Families, Crime and Criminal Justice: Charting the Linkages. © 2000 by Emerald Group Publishing. Used by permission.