Linking childhood and adult criminality: Using a life course framework to examine childhood abuse and neglect, substance use and adult partner violence

Anita Minh, Flora I. Matheson, Nihaya Daoud, Sarah Hamilton-Wright, Cheryl Pedersen, Heidi Borenstein, Patricia O'Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Child abuse and neglect, considered criminal acts under the Criminal Code of Canada, play an important role in substance use, violence, and other criminal behaviour in adulthood. We adopted the life course perspective to identify modifiable contextual influences and co-occurring individual, social, and familial determinants associated with adult criminality. Using in-depth interview data, a sub-sample of 13 women who had recently experienced intimate partner violence, recounted their experiences of childhood abuse, their own substance use or criminality, as well as implications of these factors on their children's life trajectories. For the purposes of this paper criminality was defined as child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, illegal substance use and underage alcohol use. Our objective was to explore, in our data: (1) patterns and trajectories of criminality from childhood to adulthood among women who were victims of violence, and (2) cumulative effects of early life exposures on experiences of criminality; with the aim of describing the life course perspective as a useful framework to understand criminality along the life trajectory. The analysis was not designed to demonstrate causal connections between early childhood and adulthood experiences of criminality. Rather we generated qualitative and quantitative hypotheses to guide future research in the field. Implications for research and interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5470-5489
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2013

Keywords

  • Child abuse
  • Criminality
  • Intergenerational patterns
  • Life course
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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