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Does early maltreatment influence rates of juvenile offending? Research has suggested a link between childhood maltreatment and juvenile delinquency. Both studies have suggested that early maltreatment in children can lead to later aggression and delinquency as they get older. These studies are helpful to identify and understand to what extent early physical abuse can result in juvenile offenses. As noted in both studies these effects can also vary because of factors such as race and gender. This means one group of individuals can have more problematic consequence than others. Juvenile Delinquency is an issue that is increasing itself as public health concern. An estimated 2.3 million arrests of individuals under the age of 18 were made by U.S law enforcement agencies in 2002 (Lansford 2007). For both studies researchers used prospective longitudinal design, it helped better explain the relationship that exists between child maltreatment and juvenile offensing.
Researchers identify this study as a prospective longitudinal study in which 330 children participated and were followed from the age of 5 to the age of 21. Children that were selected contained history or child maltreatment prior to the age of 4. Researchers used this study to be able to identify the path of maltreatment before the age 8 and delinquency assessed at age 12 (Lemmon 1999). The purpose of this study also was, whether children with physical abuse reports would engage in increased delinquent behavior. Researchers conducted this research at the University of North Carolina and prior to conducting the study caregivers were informed of the purpose of the study. They were told it was to further examine how different children develop and how they react with the challenges they experience. An important factor to consider was the children who were chosen had been removed from their homes between May 1990 and October 1991 because of maltreatment. They had been moving from home to home for an estimate of five months. In this study there was an estimate of 47.3 were male, 37.6 African American, 28.5% Caucasian, 16.7 Hispanic, 15.8 are racially mixed and 1.5% are another race (Lemmon 1999). Viewing the sample of children, it is clear to view it as ethnically diverse. To start off the study both the child and care giver were interviewed face to face every two years starting at the age of four. In order for researchers to maintain data they used the Maltreatment Classification System (MCS). Researchers were able to keep data organized by coding each report by the type and severity of maltreatment. Participants whom experienced maltreatment before the age of four were considered early and those whom experienced it between the ages of four and eight were considered late. All children in study 1 had a substantiated report of maltreatment prior to 3.5 years of age (Lemmon1999). In order to collect more data a teacher form was used. This form was used for teachers to assess any behavior problems for children of the ages between 5 and 18 while in school.
As for the second study conducted, it was also identified as a prospective longitudinal design but was known as the child development study. With this study the research question that was brought up within researchers was “does early physical abuse relate to violent delinquency in late adolescence and early adulthood, independent of potential confounding variables?” (Lansford 2007). Researchers hypothesized “that physical abuse would relate to violent delinquency above and beyond the effects of other ecological and child risk” (Lansford 2007). The second research question asked was “Whether associations between early physical abuse and subsequent violent delinquency differ by race or gender” (Lansford 2007). Furthermore, researchers hypothesized that “physical abuser would have worse effects on African Americans than on European American youth and worse effects on females than on males.” (Lansford 2007). On top of this researchers were also interested into investigating to what extent physical abuse plays a role with children committing violent and nonviolent offenses. Participants that participated in this study were recruited when they entered kindergarten in the year of 1987 or 1988. The three sites that were selected with this study were Tennessee, Nashville, and Bloomington, Indiana. For this study parents were all chosen at random and asked whether they were interested in being part of the study. Of the families that were asked to participate about 75% agreed to participate which contained a sample of about 585 families. There was an estimate that 52% were male, 81% were European American, 17% were African American, and 2% were from other ethnic groups (Lansford 2007). Before the study was conducted mothers were asked sets of questions in order to learn the discipline strategies used at home and whether or not they have used physical discipline. Multiple assessments were made every two years such as the assessment at age 18 were participants were asked how many times in the past 12 months, they had engaged in each of 11 types of serious violence (Lansford 2007). The result of this study were adolescents who has been physically abused in the first 5 years of life were more likely to have been arrested as a juvenile for violent and nonviolent offenses, although they were not more likely to self-report serious violent or nonviolent delinquent behavior” (Lansford 2007). African Americans are seen to suffer more consequences when they are exposed to early maltreatment. This is because once they experience such abuse the likelihood, they will receive the proper care. There is also disproportionate representation of children of color who receive public sector services that, in turn, often exacerbate rather than ameliorate children’s problems (Lansford 2007). This is all seen when African Americans aern’t given the adequate services that they need.
Both studies were used to help further understand the effects child maltreatment has on children. Both studies are identified as perspective longitudinal studies which are seen as ethnically diverse because of the different races implemented in the studies. Research was obtained differently in both studies because in the first study those who were selected as participants had prior experience to child maltreatment before the age of 4. In the second study families were chosen at random to participate. They were both able to answer my research question because they were able to show adolescents who has been physically abused in the first 5 years of life were more likely to have been arrested as a juvenile for violent and nonviolent offenses, although they were not more likely to self-report serious violent or nonviolent delinquent behavior (Lansford 2007). This finding is consistent with the first study in which all children in study 1 had a substantiated report of maltreatment prior to 3.5 years of age (Lemmon1999). Both studies followed through with children as they got older. For the first study in order to collect more data. This form was used for teachers to assess any behavior problems for children of the ages between 5 and 18 while in school. This helped to get an in-depth response of the way children reacted towards experience of maltreatment. In the second study multiple assessments were given. This assessment was made every two years which included the assessment that was done at age 18. In this assessment participants were asked how many times in the past 12 months, they had engaged in each of 11 types of serious violence (Lansford 2007).
In the first study listwise deletion was used to handle missing data because the sample size was too large. This resource is used in order to help if there is any missing data. In the second study there were a couple of limitations that researchers faced. The first limitation faced was the assessment of physical abuse was limited to the first five years of life. This isn’t as reliable because children face maltreatment further than the age of five. This limitation is countered, however, by the fact that children who were not physically abused by age 5 but were subsequently abused would have been classified into the nonabused group, which would have attenuated differences between the nonabused and abused groups (Lansford 2007). Another limitation that was faced is the lack of data on other types of child maltreatment. These include emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Not including this can lead to a less specific outcome because of such variables being left out. Another limitation that was faced in this study was the identification of physical abuse status did not take into consideration the chronicity or severity of the abuse, factors that importantly relate to the effects of abuse (Lansford 2007). This can be very important to consider
Following up on my research question whether or not early maltreatment influences rates of juvenile offending, researchers have found that child maltreatment does lead them to committing violent and nonviolent offenses. As proven in both studies “adolescents who had been physically abused in the first five years of life were more likely to self-report serious violent or nonviolent delinquent behavior” (Lansford 2007). These studies also help prove that multiple negative effects come in play when early maltreatment occurs. Further into my research it was also able to reveal that race and gender play an important role and it results in more problematic outcomes such as for African Americans and females. This is because they aren’t given the adequate services that they need
- Lansford, J. E., Miller-Johnson, S., Berlin, L. J., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (2007). Early Physical Abuse and Later Violent Delinquency: A Prospective Longitudinal Study. Child Maltreatment, 12(3), 233-245. doi:10.1177/1077559507301841
- Lemmon, J. H. (1999). How child maltreatment affects dimensions of juvenile delinquency in a cohort of low-income urban youths. Justice Quarterly, 16(2), 357-376. doi:10.1080/07418829900094171
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