Child Maltreatment and Violent Delinquency: Disentangling Main Effects and Subgroup Effects

Mersky, J.P., Reynolds, A. (2007). Child maltreatment and violent delinquency: disentangling main effects and subgroup effects. Child Maltreatment.

This study employs data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) to investigate the relation between child maltreatment and the incidence and frequency of violent delinquency. The authors also examine if effects vary between physically abused and neglected children and if select indicators (sex, cumulative risk, public aid receipt) moderate the connections between maltreatment and violent outcomes.

The CLS follows a cohort of 1,539 low-income, minority children who attended public kindergarten programs in 1985-1986. The primary sample includes 1,404 participants for whom maltreatment and delinquency status were verified.

Maltreatment is significantly associated with all violent outcomes investigated. Effects are comparable for physically abused and neglected children. Results indicate that public assistance, particularly persistent receipt, moderates the association between maltreatment and multiple outcomes.

Findings support the hypothesized connection between maltreatment and violent delinquency while highlighting certain subgroups that may be at elevated risk. Implications for research design and program development are discussed.

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