Background: Understanding the cycle of violence, from victimization to perpetration across the life span, is critical for designing successful prevention interventions. This study uses a nationally representative sample to examine the developmental relationships among three forms of child maltreatment, youth violence perpetration or victimization, and young adult intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration or victimization.
Methods: Data describing self-reported youth violence perpetration (or victimization) from Wave I of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (1994-1995) were matched with self-reported IPV perpetration (or victimization) in young adult sexual relationships and retrospective reports of child maltreatment collected during Wave III (2001-2002). Bivariate probit regression models were used to analyze the developmental relationships between child maltreatment, youth violence, and IPV. Analyses were completed in September 2006.
Results: Compared to nonvictims of child maltreatment, victims of child maltreatment are more likely to perpetrate youth violence (a likelihood increase ranging from -1.2% to 6.6% for females and 3.7% to 11.9% for males) and young adult IPV (an increase from 8.7% to 10.4% for females and from 1.3% to 17.2% for males), although the direct and indirect effects vary by type of child maltreatment experienced. Gender differences exist in the links between child maltreatment, youth violence and IPV, and in the effects of socioeconomic factors on youth violence and IPV.
Conclusions: Results suggest that it may be important to account for gender differences when designing violence prevention programs, and an integrative approach is critical for stopping the developmental trajectory of violence.