Child abuse and adult offending

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Child abuse and adult offending in the AIFS library catalogue

Exploring outcomes for young people who have experienced out-of-home care

Lima F, Maclean M and O'Donnell M
Perth : Telethon Kids Institute, 2019.
Young people leaving the care system are at high risk of disadvantage, due to the significant and complex issues they have faced in childhood and the lack of supports available as they transition to independent adult life. This report was commissioned to learn more about the outcomes of young people leaving care in Western Australia. It compares the physical and mental health, school achievement, justice involvement, and child protection involvement of children who had been in care, children with at least one substantiated maltreatment allegation but no time in care, and children with no child protection contact. It draws on linked population data for children born between 1 January 1990 and 30 June 1995 in Western Australia, regarding hospital admissions, mental health diagnoses and service use, secondary education completion, further education, juvenile justice sentences, adult justice sentences, early pregnancy, and multiple adverse outcomes. The findings are consistent with those of studies from other jurisdictions, with young people who had been in care were more likely to have adverse outcomes than the other children. Young people who were Aboriginal, female, born in a more disadvantaged area, or first entered care after the age of 10 were particularly at risk. Note, these children had wide-ranging periods in care, from two days up to 18 years, so further analysis is needed into differences by time spent in care, age on entering and leaving care, and placement type.

Child sexual abuse and criminal offending : gender-specific effects and the role of abuse characteristics and other adverse outcomes.

Papalia N, Ogloff J, Cutajar M and Mullen P
Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children v. 23 no. 4 Nov 2018: 399-416
This article adds to what is known about the association between child sexual abuse victimisation and later criminal offending. It investigates whether various factors play a role in this association, including gender, age, intrusiveness of abuse, frequency of abuse, relationship to perpetrator, number of perpetrators, revictimisation, mental illness, and total number of risk factors. A prospective study was undertaken using linked data from Victoria of 2,759 cases of sexual abuse matched with 2,677 community controls, followed up for between 13-44 years. The study finds that those who were abuse survivors were more likely than the control group to engage in all types of criminal behaviours, with specific abuse characteristics, revictimisation, and mental health problems associated with an increased likelihood. The study also found differences by gender, with female survivors more likely to commit general and violent offending and males more likely to commit sexual offending. The possible reasons for these associations and the limitations of the data are discussed, with reference to the wider research.

How school, family, and community protective factors can help youth who have experienced maltreatment

Wilkinson A and Lantos H
Bethesda, MD : Child Trends, 2018.
Children who experience abuse and neglect face a higher risk of engaging delinquency later in adolescence and criminal behaviour in young adulthood. This report explores this association further, investigating the role of individual characteristics and protective factors and trajectories in delinquent or criminal behaviour over time. It draws on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, from the United States, to examine the relationship between child maltreatment and delinquent or criminal behaviour, the protective factors that can decrease the risk, and variations by gender, race, and sexual orientation, from age 18-32. The findings show that people who experience maltreatment as children are more likely to engage in delinquent or criminal behaviour, for males in particular. Most delinquent or criminal behaviours take place in adolescence and drop significantly by adulthood, regardless of maltreatment status, and having a connection to school, a parental figure, or their neighbourhood has a protective effect, also regardless of maltreatment status, but in particular for preventing nonviolent delinquency among youth who experienced maltreatment. The findings have implications for designing interventions.

Exploring the longitudinal offending pathways of child sexual abuse victims : a preliminary analysis using latent variable modeling.

Papalia N, Luebbers S, Ogloff J, Cutajar M and Mullen P
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 66 Apr 2017: 84-100
Research suggests that childhood abuse can significantly increase the risk of engaging in crime and violence later in life. This article investigates patterns of criminal offending among young adults who were sexually abused in childhood, as compared to offenders with no history of child sexual abuse, and whether there are certain risk factors associated with any differences. Criminal offending over the ages of 10-25 years is studied. Note, most child sexual abuse victims do not go onto offend, and - for those who do - the majority appear to reduce their criminal involvement as they approach early adulthood, much like their non-abused counterparts. This research is part of a broader study in Australia linking forensic examinations of 2759 cases of medically ascertained CSA between 1964 and 1995, to criminal justice and public psychiatric databases 13-44 years following abuse, together with a matched comparison sample of 2677 individuals.

Risk factors that influence the maltreatment-offending association : a systematic review of prospective and longitudinal studies.

Malvaso C, Delfabbro P and Day A
Aggression and Violent Behavior v. 31 Nov/Dec 2016: 1-15
Though there is a large body of research indicating an association between exposure to maltreatment during childhood or adolescence and subsequent delinquent or offending behaviours, the nature of this association remains unclear and there is consistent evidence that not all children go on to offend. This article aims to synthesise current knowledge in a way that allows clear insights into the status of knowledge in this area. A systematic review of 62 prospective and longitudinal studies was undertaken, and discussed here in four main sections: taxonomic categories of maltreatment, individual risk factors, social risk factors, and contextual risk factors. The most important insight gained from this review is that child maltreatment does not occur in isolation: there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the maltreatment-offending association.

Testing the sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis : a prospective longitudinal birth cohort study.

Leach C, Stewart A and Smallbone S
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 51 Jan 2016: 144-153
The sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis puts forward that people who are sexually abused as children - boys especially - are at greater risk of sexually abusing others later in life. This article tests this hypothesis using a Queensland birth cohort of 38,282 males with a maltreatment history or at least one finalised offense, compared to the wider birth population. Contrary to some studies, the research found that proportionally few sexual offenders (4%) had a confirmed history of sexual abuse. However, poly-victimisation was significantly associated with sexual offending, violent offending, and general nonsexual and nonviolent offending. No specific association between sexual abuse and sexual offending, was found.

Establishing the connection between alcohol and other drug use and sexual victimisation

Quadara A, Stathopoulos M and Jenkinson R
Alexandria, NSW : ANROWS, 2015.
This paper establishes the current state of knowledge on the association between alcohol and drug use and sexual violence. It examines the prevalence of sexual violence and alcohol and drug use in Australia; the association between alcohol and drug use and severity of, or vulnerability to, sexual violence and re-victimisation; correlations between child sexual abuse and subsequent alcohol and drug use, and adult sexual abuse and subsequent alcohol and drug use; and current practice around identification, assessment, response and referral pathways between alcohol and other drug services and sexual assault services. The implications for service provision are also discussed.

An analysis of the association between criminal behaviour and experience of maltreatment as a child in the Northern Territory.

Yick J
13th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect : protecting children - new solutions to old problems : 10-13 November 2013. Canberra, A.C.T. : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2013: 28p
This presentation investigated the association between childhood abuse and later criminal offending as juveniles and adults in the Northern Territory. This document contains the slides shown during the presentation, which feature summary text and charts. Charts are included comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and male, and female statistics.

The role of out-of-home-care in criminal justice outcomes.

Stockley C
Insight (Victorian Council of Social Service) no. 8 2013: 39-41
The connection between childhood abuse and neglect and contact with the criminal justice system in later adulthood is well-established, but the impact or role of the child protection system - in particular out-of-home care - is less understood. This article discusses recent Australian research on the association between out of home care and the criminal justice system, and highlights the opportunity for therapeutic care to break this connection.

Child sexual abuse and subsequent offending and victimisation: a 45 year follow-up study

Ogloff J, Cutajar M, Mann E and Mullen P
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2012.
"Up to 30 percent of children experience childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and whether this impacts re-victimisation or offending as an adult has been the subject of numerous studies. This study investigates whether a disproportionate number of CSA victims subsequently perpetrate offences and experience future victimisation compared with people who have not been sexually abused. In a sample of 2,759 CSA victims who were abused between 1964 and 1995, it was found CSA victims were almost five times more likely than the general population to be charged with any offence than their non-abused counterparts, with strongest associations found for sexual and violent offences. CSA victims were also more likely to have been victims of crime, particularly crimes of a sexual or violent nature."--Foreword.

Child sexual abuse and subsequent offending and victimisation: a 45 year follow-up study

Cutajar M, Ogloff J and Mullen P
Canberra, A.C.T. : Criminology Research Council, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011.
Retrospective studies suggests that a high proportion of offenders and victims report a history of child sexual abuse, but those studies suffer from methodological limitations. To address this limitation of the evidence, this new study presents prospective research on whether there is an association between child sexual abuse and later offending and revictimisation. It links data from Victoria for 2,759 cases of child sexual abuse from 1964 and 1995, with police and psychiatric databases up to 45 years later, as well as a control group of 2,677 people from the general population. It investigates: the nature, frequency and outcomes of contact with the police for a range of offences as an offender or victim; gender differences; and the mediating role of sexual abuse factors and mental illness. The study finds that although the majority of CSA victims did not have a criminal history record, those that did had a higher number of charges, convictions, and custodial sentences, and offended to an older age compared to the general population. CSA victims were 1.43 times more likely than the general population to have contact with the police for any matter, though largely as the victim of crime, in particular for abused males.

Child abuse and neglect in the UK today

Radford L
London : NSPCC, 2011
This report provides information on the prevalence, impact, and severity of child maltreatment in the United Kingdom. Based on a survey of 2,160 parents, 2,275 young people, and 1,761 young adults, it investigates the frequency of lifelong and current child abuse and neglect, the risk and protective factors associated with prevalence rates and impact, and trends in abuse since the previous NSPCC report, published in 2000. Information is also included on: household characteristics of participants, income and housing tenure, parent or child illness or disability, different types of abuse and polyvictimisation, gender differences, physical and emotional impacts, outcomes of delinquency or suicide, abuse by non-resident adults, which non-resident adults pose the greatest risk, co-occurrence of maltreatment and other victimisation types, sexual abuse by peers, and abuse at home, school or in the community. The report also discusses young people's views on helpful and unhelpful interventions.

Childhood physical abuse and adult offending: are they linked, and is there scope for early intervention?

Teague R and Mazerolle P
Brisbane, Qld : Crime and Misconduct Commission, 2007.
This study examines the relationship between childhood physical abuse and offending among 480 male and female offenders serving community corrections orders in Queensland. Do offending rates differ between respondents who have been abused during childhood and those who have not, and if there is a relationship, is it magnified or mitigated by certain characteristics or experiences? It was found that physically abused offenders report higher rates of violent, property and total offending than non abused offenders and that certain experiences can minimise the negative consequences of physical abuse. The paper discusses practical ways that criminogenic consequences of physical child abuse on offending pathways across the life course can be minimised or prevented.

Personal and offending characteristics of child sexual offenders who have been sexually abused.

Proeve M and Reilly E
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law v. 14 no. 2 2007: 251-259
Although estimates of prevalence vary greatly, the rate of childhood sexual abuse appears to be higher in sexual offenders than in community samples of adult males. This study investigated the history of 324 South Australian male sexual offenders who had committed offences against children. It compared offenders who had experienced sexual abuse as children with those who had not. Sexual offenders who had been sexually abused were more likely to report other childhood difficulties and adult homosexual relationships. They were also more likely to ahve a history of nonsexual offending, sexual offending against male victims and against multiple victims, and to have crossed boundaries of gender, age and relationship to their victims. The study showed no significant relationship between characteristics of their childhood sexual abuse experiences and sexual offending. The study has implications for sexual abuse as a risk factor for sexual offending.

Violence and victimization: exploring women's histories of survival : final report to the National Institute of Justice

Postmus J and Severson M
Washington, D.C. : US. Dept. of Justice, 2006
"This research explored the histories of physical and sexual victimization reported by incarcerated and non-incarcerated women and sought to identify the survival strategies women activated at various points in their lifespan. The goal of this research was to examine the consequences, defined here as the health, mental health, substance use, incarceration, and suicidality, of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and youth maltreatment and victimization to identify at-risk populations, modifiable risk and essential mediating factors, and optimal times and settings for intervention"

Does child abuse cause crime?

Currie J and Tekin E
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2006
This paper uses data from the United States National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to measure the effects of child abuse and neglect on crime. The authors investigate the effects of different forms of child abuse, the causal impact of abuse, and the extent to which the effects of maltreatment vary with socio-economic status, gender, and the severity of the maltreatment. Findings indicate that maltreatment almost doubles the probability of criminal behaviour, that children from low socioeconomic groups are more likely to be mistreated and to suffer more damaging effects, that boys are at greater risk than girls of committing crimes, and that sexual abuse has the greatest negative effect on subsequent behaviour. Also, the probability of engaging in crime increases with the experience of multiple forms of maltreatment as well as the experience of investigation by Child Protective Services.

Examining the intergenerational transmission of violence in a New Zealand birth cohort.

Fergusson D, Boden J and Horwood L
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 30 no. 2 Feb 2006 89-108
This study used data from the longitudinal Christchurch Health and Development Study to investigate whether children who witnessed interparental violence went on to be involved in interpartner violent crime. The covariate factors included in the analysis were: measures of family socio economic background; measures of family functioning; measures of child abuse; and measures of individual characteristics.

Key findings from the drug use careers of female offenders study

Johnson H
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004.
"The Australian Institute of Criminology is undertaking research on the drug use careers of adult males, females and juveniles incarcerated in Australian prisons. The objective of the Drug Use Careers of Offenders (DUCO) female study is to contribute to the empirical evidence about the interaction between drug use and criminal offending among incarcerated women. The results of the DUCO male study were released in 2003 and the results of the DUCO juvenile study are expected in 2005. The female study comprised 470 women who were incarcerated in prisons in six jurisdictions in Australia in 2003. The majority of these women offenders reported persistent offending and extensive drug use histories. Results have identified important differences in the patterns of drug use of women as compared to men. Risk factors for drug use have also been identified, including early exposure to drug and alcohol problems by family members, incarceration as a juvenile, mental health problems, and sexual and physical abuse. Understanding patterns in offending and drug use, and the connection between the two, may assist in the development of interventions and crime reduction strategies for women offenders."--Author abstract.

Drugs and crime: a study of incarcerated female offenders

Johnson H
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004.
The Australian Institute of Criminology is undertaking research on the drug use careers of adult males, females and juveniles incarcerated in Australian prisons. The objective of the Drug Use Careers of Offenders (DUCO) female study is to contribute to the empirical evidence about the interaction between drug use and criminal offending among incarcerated women. This monograph presents findings from the DUCO female study, which was based on interviews with 470 women incarcerated in Australian prisons. Findings are presented on offending histories, drug use, links between drug and alcohol use and crime, temporal order of drug use and offending, and risk factors for drug use and offending. The results demonstrate important differences in the patterns of drug use of women as compared to men. Understanding patterns in offending and drug use, and the connection between the two, may assist in the development of interventions and crime reduction strategies for women offenders.

Youth justice: criminal trajectories

Lynch M, Buckman J and Krenske L
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2003.
This paper presents the key findings of the 'Youth Justice: Criminal Trajectories Research Project', which focused on recidivism among young offenders in Queensland. The project tracked 1,503 young offenders who received supervised juvenile justice orders in 1994 - 1995 from their court appearances through to adult custodial and non custodial orders served up to September 2002. The paper analyses this cohort in terms of socioeconomic status, gender, Indigenous status, peak offending age, and the presence of care and protection orders. The data show that the vast majority of young offenders on supervised orders progress to the adult correction systems with half of them having served at least one term of imprisonment. Among male Indigenous juveniles, 89 percent of those on supervised orders had progressed to the adult corrections system by September 2002, with 71 percent having served at least one prison term. Analysis of risk factors also finds that 91 percent of those who had been subject to a care and protection order progressed to the adult system. The results of the project confirm that multiple factors amplify the risk of recidivism and highlight the importance of coordinated whole of government responses to youth offending. The paper also summarises recent multi agency initiatives to reduce juvenile crime in Queensland.

Research links child maltreatment with juvenile offending.

Harris L
Indigenous Law Bulletin v. 5 no. 22 Jan/Feb 2003 5
This article reviews a recent report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology that identifies a causal relationship between child maltreatment and juvenile offending. The authors of the report believe that there is a significantly increased risk of children offending before the age of 18 if they have been maltreated. The report also indicates that Indigenous children who have been maltreated are more likely to offend than non Indigenous children, and that Indigenous children are more likely to suffer maltreatment in the first place. The report concludes that child abuse prevention is the key to reduced rates of juvenile offending.

From victim to offender : how child sexual abuse victims become offenders

Briggs F
St. Leonards, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 1995.

Child sexual assault.

Causton S
Connexions v. 13 no. 3 May/Jun 1993 16-19
The author explores the links between child sexual assault and the alcohol and other drug use of both the perpetrators and the survivors.

The cycle of violence.

Widom C
Unpublished, 1993, 20p. Paper presented at the Second National Conference on Violence, Canberra, July 1993
This paper reports on a US study which examined the relationship between early childhood abuse and neglect and later delinquent and violent behaviour using a design that overcame many of the methodological limitations of previous research. The study of 1,575 children from a metropolitan area in the midwest, including a matched control group, were followed through official records of delinquency and adult criminality for a twenty year period after the abuse or neglect incident. The study was designed to have a clear definition of abuse and neglect, to have large sample sizes allowing examination of the consequences of physical and sexual abuse and neglect separately, and to document consequences over a twenty year period extending into young adulthood. While the study's findings support previous research, this prospective study allows issues of causality to be examined and disentangles the effects of childhood victimisation from other potential confounding factors. The study found that abused and neglected children have a higher likelihood of arrests for delinquency, adult criminality and violent criminal behaviour than matched controls. Black and white abused and neglected children have higher risks of offending than control children. However, the difference between white abused and neglected children and control subjects was not as great as that between black abused and neglected subjects and controls. A connection between child abuse and neglect and runaways was found. The author also found a link between child abuse and neglect and self destructive behaviour, depression and suicide attempts. Also, a substantial portion of abused and/or neglected children did not appear to manifest negative outcomes.
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