Gender Differences in Behaviors of Abused Children Can Predict Adult Criminal Activity

University-Washington-logoPrevious studies have shown adults who were abused as children are more likely to commit crimes as adults than adults who were not abused as children. But a new study led by researchers at the University of Washington finds that behaviors exhibited by abused children can indicate who is likely to participate in criminal behavior as an adult. And these behaviors vary by gender.

The researchers found that abused boys who exhibit behaviors such as arguing, disobedience, and fighting are the most likely to commit crimes as adults. But abused girls who showed such behaviors are not as likely to commit crimes as adults as girls who internalize their childhood pain and become depressed and withdrawn. Boys who become depressed or withdrawn due to child abuse were found not as likely to become criminals as adults.

Hyunzee Jung, a research scientist in the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study, says that “people might think that they’re just quiet girls and not causing any problems. Those internalizing behaviors really need to be paid attention to.”

Co-author Todd Herrenkohl, a professor of social work at the university, added, “We need to find ways of identifying these kids and wrapping services around them and their families so that we’re reducing the likelihood that their behaviors are going to worsen over time.”

The article, “Does Child Maltreatment Predict Adult Crime? Reexamining the Question in a Prospective Study of Gender Differences, Education, and Marital Status,” appears in the August issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply