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NCJ Number: 206305 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Study of Firesetting and Animal Cruelty in Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes
Journal: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  Volume:43  Issue:7  Dated:July 2004  Pages:905-912
Author(s): Kimberly D. Becker Ph.D.; Jeffrey Stuewig Ph.D.; Veronica M. Herrera Ph.D.; Laura A. McCloskey Ph.D.
Date Published: July 2004
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
Grant Number: RO1-MH51428;
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined links among family risk factors for dysfunction, childhood firesetting and animal cruelty, and adolescent delinquency.
Abstract: The original study began in 1990 (time 1) with the recruitment of 363 mothers and 1 of their children between the ages of 6 and 12 to participate in a study that examined the impact of marital violence on children's mental health. The study thus involved an oversampling of battered women and their children. The mothers and children were interviewed again in 1996-97 (time 2) and in 1998-99 (time 3). At follow-up the overall retention rate of mother-child dyads was 86 percent. Ten years after the first interview (2000), juvenile court records were examined to obtain any official reports of delinquency for the children in the initial study. The factors measured were marital violence, harsh parenting, sexual abuse, parental alcohol use, paternal abuse of pets, child psychopathology, child firesetting, child animal cruelty, and delinquency. Self-reported delinquency was examined in addition to any official delinquency records. The study found that marital violence, paternal pet abuse, and paternal drinking were related to firesetting; whereas, exposure to marital violence and paternal and maternal harsh parenting were associated with animal cruelty. Regression analyses found that after controlling for conduct disorder, firesetters were 3.0 times (confidence interval = 1.3-6.7) at risk for juvenile court referral and 3.3 times (confidence interval of 1.4-7.6) at risk of arrest for a violent crime. Analysis of self-reports of delinquency replicated these findings. Animal cruelty was related to self-reported violent crime. These findings indicate that family variables related to deviant behavior and harsh parenting increase the likelihood of childhood firesetting and animal cruelty. These behaviors in turn are related to adolescent delinquency. These findings suggest that parent management training may be one of the most effective interventions for children who manifest externalizing behaviors. Future research should examine the mechanisms by which family dysfunction influences firesetting and animal cruelty by the children. 4 tables and 29 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency factors
Index Term(s): Cruelty to animals; Juvenile fire setters; Longitudinal studies; Parent-Child Relations; Parental attitudes; Parental influence
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