The maltreatment of children, which includes both neglect and abuse, is a clear and severe problem in the United States of America. The question is: are children who are subject to maltreatment more likely to perpetrate transgressions later in life?
This question is substantial for research, because, if there is indeed a significant correlation to maltreatment as a child and criminal activity later in life, that would be evidence for modifications in current policies. For example, if many violent offenders were physically abused as children, it would be logical to alter policies to further prevent the abuse of children. This could include making the penalty for child maltreatment considerably more severe or being more proactive in the separation of abused children from the harmful situation, whether that be the household or another location where the abuse is taking place. Additionally, childhood maltreatment is undeniably a social problem in the United States. It is estimated that more than a million children are victims of maltreatment annually (Currie, 2012). This being the case, if there is a substantial correlation between childhood maltreatment and transgression, that would ultimately be costing society as a whole.
The relationship between childhood abuse and later criminal activity has increasingly been the subject of research for the past decade. A plethora of research has emerged seeking answers to questions that pertain to varying aspects of this question. The start of this research were studies examining the long term, adverse effects of childhood maltreatment in general, not specifically criminal behavior later in life. For example, Felitti found a correlations between childhood mistreatment and things such as suicide attempts, having multiple sexual partners, smoking, and alcoholism (Felitti, 1998).
This study and a few others that were performed around the same time seemingly led the charge for a new wave of research pertaining to the long term effects of childhood maltreatment. The correlation between childhood maltreatment and later transgressions came into question because this is a very severe result that has a very adverse effect on society as a whole. Unfortunately, there has not been a consensus with the various research being conducted. Many studies find results that show no significant correlation between childhood maltreatment and criminal activity while others found a lack of a correlation at all.
There has been some recent studies that spawned from the research that concluded in agreement that there is a correlation between childhood maltreatment and criminal activity later in life.
In a 2010 study, An Exploration of Differences in Childhood Maltreatment between Violent and Non-Violent Male Delinquents, Caroline Robertson and David Burton explored the question of whether different kinds of abuse were more correlated to violent or nonviolent transgressions (Robertson, 2010). Despite having many...