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NCJ Number: 205785 Find in a Library
Title: Official and Self-Reported Childhood Abuse and Adult Crime of Young Offenders
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:31  Issue:2  Dated:April 2004  Pages:127-149
Author(s): Jaana Haapasalo; Juha Moilanen
Date Published: April 2004
Page Count: 23
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This research study sought to predict adult criminal behavior of young male prison inmates using self-reporting and corresponding official records on any childhood mistreatment.
Abstract: In criminology research, self-reports and official records have been used to describe the prevalence, frequency, variety, and seriousness of criminal behavior. Ideally these two measures provide consistent information, with self-reported criminality data correlating positively with corresponding official criminal records. There are, however, certain disadvantages and advantages in both of these measures of criminal activity. Self-report instruments have been found to be useful in studying prison inmates, psychiatric patients and drug addicts. Self-reported criminality scales can also be used in examining the relationships between childhood mistreatment and later antisocial and criminal behavior. Possibly because of the inherent differences between official crime records and self-reported data, the findings on the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect and later criminality are inconsistent. This study sought to predict adult criminal behavior using self-reported and official data on childhood maltreatment and criminality. It focused on 89 young male Finnish prison inmates who were highly representative of young male inmates in Finland. Fifty-two were violent offenders and 37 were convicted of nonviolent crimes. The study used a five-section computerized, structured interview. In the context of the interviews, self-reported criminality was measured with 33 items that were compatible with the culture and judicial system of Finland. The participants were asked about their criminal behavior in written form, with response actions being: never, once or twice, or more than twice. The participants were given a list of agencies and asked to indicate if they had ever been clients of these agencies when they were younger than 15 years of age. If the participants gave their written consent, the relevant agencies were contacted and a copy of the participant’s file was requested. Files were subsequently received for 78 offenders. The results of the study indicated that self-reported and file-based physical abuse correlated positively and significantly with self-reported violent criminality. There were also significant intercorrelations between the file-based types of maltreatment. Furthermore, self-reported physical abuse was strongly associated with self-reported rejection and excessive expectations. Fewer correlations emerged between self-reported and file-based maltreatment. Self-reported morally corrupting behaviors correlated positively with file-based psychological abuse and neglect, however. The official criminal record data concerning violent versus nonviolent offending and the self-reported criminality data were consistent in that the violent offenders reported more violent crime than the property crime offenders. Childhood physical abuse was a significant predictor of self-reported violent criminality. Moreover, childhood maltreatment failed to predict officially registered criminality. The offenders who had been convicted of violent crimes admitted to their violent behavior in the self-report questionnaire. Conversely, the nonviolent property offenders revealed violent behaviors that had not been officially registered. 4 tables, 2 appendices, and 36 references
Main Term(s): Child abuse as crime factor; Evaluation measures
Index Term(s): Finland; Instrument validation; Violent-nonviolent behavior comparisons; Young juvenile offenders
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