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Causes and Effects of Child Abuse - Childhood Maltreatment, Mental Health Problems, And Dating Violence

times inmates maltreated abused

Researchers in Ontario, Canada, investigated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and mental health problems and dating violence in adolescents with a history of childhood abuse and neglect (David A. Wolfe, Katreena Scott, Christine Wekerle, and Anna-Lee Pittman, "Child Maltreatment: Risk of Adjustment Problems and Dating Violence in Adolescence," Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 4, no. 3, March 2001). In a sample of 1,419 high school students ages fourteen to nineteen, nearly one-third (462 students) reported having experienced maltreatment as children. The researchers found that maltreated females were more than nine times as likely as nonmaltreated females to suffer from significant anxiety and posttraumatic stress, and more than seven times as likely to have problems with anger and depression. Maltreated females were nearly three times as likely to have committed nonviolent offenses, such as vandalism; four and a half times as likely to have committed violent acts, such as assault; and seven times as likely to have carried a concealed weapon during the past year. They reported being nearly three times as likely to use threatening behaviors with their partners. Maltreated females were also nearly twice as likely to have suffered sexual/physical abuse by a dating partner.

TABLE 5.7

Prior physical or sexual abuse of jail inmates, 2002 and 1996
Note: Details adds to more than total because more than 1 person may have abused inmates; or some inmates were both physically and sexually abused.
*Includes (ex) spouse, (ex) boyfriend, and (ex) girlfriend.
SOURCE: Doris J. James, "Table 17. Prior Physical or Sexual Abuse of Jail Inmates, 2002 and 1996," in Profile of Jail Inmates, 2002, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 2004, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ipv01.pdf (accessed October 27, 2004)
Percent of all jail inmates
All Male Female
2002 1996 2002 1996 2002 1996
Ever physically or sexually abused 18.2 % 16.4 % 13.4 % 12.9 % 55.3 % 47.5 %
Before age 18 10.9 11.6 9.7 10.6 20.3 20.8
After age 18 4.9 2.0 2.3 1.0 25.2 10.9
Both 2.3 2.7 1.4 1.3 9.7 15.8
Physically abused 15.1 % 13.3 % 11.2 % 10.7 % 44.9 % 37.2 %
Sexually abused 7.7 8.7 4.0 5.6 35.9 37.1
Relationship to abuser Percent of abused inmates
Knew abuser 92.4 % 86.6 % 92.5 % 87.9 % 92.1 % 90.3 %
Parent/guardian 47.9 53.2 59.7 60.1 25.7 36.3
Intimate* 30.0 16.6 10.5 3.5 66.7 47.7
Other relatives 17.3 24.4 16.4 21.6 18.9 31.3
Friend/acquaintance 20.7 23.1 13.9 21.7 33.5 26.4
Did not know abuser 7.6 % 13.4 % 7.5 % 12.1 % 7.9 % 17.9 %

In comparison, maltreated males reported lesser degrees of mental problems. They were more than three times as likely as nonmaltreated males to experience anger and posttraumatic stress and more than twice as likely to report depression. Although maltreated boys did not report significant delinquency, they were more than three times as likely as maltreated males to physically abuse their partners and almost twice as likely to be sexually abusive. They were also nearly three times as likely to threaten their partners. Maltreated males were twice as likely to have been sexually abused, two and a half times as likely to have experienced physical abuse, and three times as likely to have been threatened by their partners.

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