Childhood Physical Abuse And Offending

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Childhood physical abuse and adult offending Are they linked, and is there scope for early intervention? Summary ReseaRch & Issues PaPeR seRIes NumbeR 6, July 2007 IssN: 1446-845X about the authoRs This paper was written by Dr Rosie Teague and Professor Paul Mazerolle, now of Griffith University, with assistance from Dr Margot Legosz and Dr Jennifer Sanderson of the CMC. The study described in this paper examines the relationship between physical abuse during childhood and offending (both official and self-reported) among 480 male and female offenders serving community corrections orders in Queensland. This paper examines whether offending rates differ between respondents who had been abused during childhood and those who had not,…show more content…
Various protective factors may prevent the onset of problem behaviour, or at least limit its severity. These include good problem-solving skills, supportive, caring parents and a favourable school climate. Conversely, there are other factors that can heighten, rather than reduce, the vulnerability created by abuse. These include insecure attachment, school failure and peer rejection (Developmental Crime Prevention Consortium 1999). This study examines the prevalence of childhood physical abuse among a sample of offenders serving community corrections orders in Queensland. We acknowledge that high-risk groups such as the offenders in the sample are likely to have experienced various forms of maltreatment; however, physical abuse is the only aspect of child maltreatment examined in this paper. Preliminary research findings have indicated that physical abuse affects males and females differently. Although females are slightly less likely than males to be victims of physical abuse (e.g. National Child Protection Clearing House 2004), two studies have found that being a victim of physical abuse is a significant predictor of violent offending for females but not for males (Herrera & McCloskey 2001; Widom & Maxfield 2001). While the effects of physical abuse have been comprehensively examined among a range of samples, there are few studies examining its…show more content…
Criminogenic influences of non-academic school attachment 50 Frequency of violent offending 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 No abuse Abuse experience Abuse 8.31 8.73 13.21 14.25 17.32 19.36 17.09 39.18 Level of non-academic attachment Frequency of offending None Some attachment Attachment Strong attachment 140 120 100 80 66.15 96.95 85.95 75.74 114.63 Level of non-academic attachment None Some attachment Attachment Strong attachment 60 46.11 50.88 37.5 40 20 0 No abuse Abuse experience Abuse The relationships shown in Figures 1–8 demonstrate the competing influences of protective parental support and negative school experiences. For example, whereas it is clear that paternal support protects against the criminogenic consequences of abuse (Figures 1 and 2), in that it minimises participation in violent and general offending, the same cannot be said for maternal support (Figures 3 and 4). Experiences in school also provide opportunities to magnify or accelerate the negative consequences of physical child abuse. For example, among respondents with a history of physical child abuse, being expelled from school appears to increase the frequency of offending behaviour, including violence (see Figures 5 and 6). This illustrates the importance of keeping youth at school, which is a key socialising

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