Banner 2002
   J. Robert Flores, Administrator
December 2002  
Violent Victimization as a Risk Factor for Violent Offending Among Juveniles

Jennifer N. Shaffer and R. Barry Ruback

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NCJ 195737

Preparation of this Bulletin was funded by the National Center for Juvenile Justice’s National Juvenile Justice Data Analysis Project, which is supported by cooperative agreement number 99–JN–FX–K002 with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

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A Message From OJJDP

Compared with adults, juveniles are disproportionately affected by high rates of violence as both offenders and victims. Understanding the relationship between victimization and offending is therefore of critical importance.

Examining data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the authors of this Bulletin found that victims of violence were significantly more likely than nonvictims to become violent offenders. They also found that violent victimization and violent offending share many of the same risk factors, such as previous violent victimization and offending, drug and alcohol use, and depression. These findings are particularly important because they suggest that interventions directed at preventing victimization could also reduce offending, and vice versa.

The analysis presented in this Bulletin provides evidence that peers and adults can and do play important roles in the lives of juveniles. Juveniles who said that they had support from friends, parents, teachers, and others were less likely to commit a violent offense. These findings underscore the need for and value of mentoring, parenting, and anger management programs that provide opportunities for juveniles to interact with caring adults. By identifying youth who are most at risk and examining the links between victimization and offending, we can improve our ability to intervene positively in these juveniles’ lives.


Jennifer N. Shaffer is a doctoral candidate at the Pennsylvania State University and a predoctoral fellow at the National Consortium on Violence Research. R. Barry Ruback is Professor of Crime, Law, and Justice and Sociology at the Pennsylvania State University.

This research is based on data from the Add Health project, a program designed by J. Richard Udry (principal investigator) and Peter Bearman and funded by grant P01–HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with cooperative funding participation by the National Cancer Institute; the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Nursing Research; the Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health (NIH); the Office of Behavior and Social Science Research, NIH; the Office of the Director, NIH; the Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH; the Office of Population Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS; the Office of Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS; the Office of Minority Health, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HHS; and the National Science Foundation.

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