Maltreatment of boys and the development of disruptive and delinquent behavior

Dev Psychopathol. Fall 2001;13(4):941-55.


Data from a longitudinal, inner-city community sample were used to examine the prevalence of child maltreatment in males and to relate this to disruptive and delinquent child behavior. By age 18 years, almost one fourth of the families had been referred to Children and Youth Services (CYS). Investigation by the CYS resulted in substantiated maltreatment of 10% of the participants, mostly for physical abuse and neglect. Almost all maltreatment was perpetrated by people living in the same house as the victim. Maltreatment was related to the boys progressing on three pathways in disruptive and delinquent behavior: authority conflict pathway, overt pathway, and covert pathway. Two thirds of the victims showed authority conflict problems, and almost all of the maltreated boys displayed behaviors characteristic of the overt and covert pathways. Victims, compared to matched controls, were more likely to have engaged in behaviors characteristic of the authority conflict and the overt pathways but less strongly engaged in behaviors associated with the covert pathway. Victims were also more likely than controls to have a referral to juvenile court. Most of the CYS contact tended to precede or co-occur with onset of overt and covert problem behavior, but about half of the onset of authority conflict behaviors tended to precede contact with CYS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Pennsylvania
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population* / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence