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Criminal Justice and Behavior Official and Self-Reported Childhood Abuse and Adult Crime of Young Offenders
Jaana Haapasalo and Juha Moilanen Criminal Justice and Behavior 2004; 31; 127 DOI: 10.1177/0093854803261328 The online version of this article can be found at:

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University of Jyvskyl


This study sought to predict adult criminal behavior in a sample of 89 young male prison inmates using self-reported and official data on childhood maltreatment (gathered from interviews and files) and criminality (collected using a 33-item Self-Reported Criminality Scale and official criminal records). Overall, the offenders convicted of violent versus nonviolent crimes did not differ in self-reported criminality. File-based neglect was predictive of self-reported property offenses, and self-reported psychological abuse predicted self-reported vandalism. Official criminal record data was not predicted by self-reported or file-based childhood maltreatment. The findings provided evidence of consistency between self-report and official criminal record data on violent criminality among young prison inmates. In all, the findings showed that children who are physically abused tend to report having committed violent crime to a great extent in young adulthood. Keywords: child maltreatment; criminal behavior; self-report; offender

n criminological research, self-reports and official records have been used to describe, among other things, the prevalence, frequency, variety, and seriousness of criminal behavior. Ideally these two measures provide consistent information, with self-reported criminality data correlating positively with criminal records (Elliott & Huizinga, 1988; Farrington, Loeber, Stouthamer-Loeber, van
AUTHOR NOTE: This study was funded by the Academy of Finland (Grants 8482 and 40797). Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jaana Haapasalo, Department of Education, City of Heinola, Kaivokatu 5-7, FIN- 18100, Heinola, Finland; e-mail
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 31 No. 2, April 2004 127-149 DOI: 10.1177/0093854803261328 2004 American Association for Correctional Psychology


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Kammen, & Schmidt, 1996; Hindelang, Hirschi, & Weiss, 1981). There are, however, inherent advantages and disadvantages in both of these measures of criminal activity. For example, official records may understate the actual number of offenses, and certain types of offenses are more likely to be detected than others. Provided that criminal convictions are sound, the offenses that will be registered are, however, substantiated incidents of criminal behavior. By contrast, self-reported criminality data may be compromised because of forgetting, denial, intentional distortion, methodological problems in self-report instruments, and other reasons. Claims have been made that self-reports overstate the number of minor offenses (Tolan & Lorion, 1988) and distinguish poorly between types of offenses (Loeber & Waller, 1988). The advantage of self-reports is their ability to provide information for minor acts of delinquency and off-the-record crime, if the respondent is willing to admit it. Selfreport instruments have been found to be useful in studying prison inmates, psychiatric inpatients, and drug addicts (e.g., Anglin, Hser, & Chou, 1993; Convit, ODonnell, & Volavka, 1990; McElrath, 1994; Motiuk, Motiuk, & Bonta, 1992). Generally, self-report delinquency scales list a number of specific problem behaviors that belong to various domains, such as drug use, stealing, and physical aggression. There is also evidence for a higher order problem behavior factor underlying these types of self-report scales (Farrell, Kung, White, & Valois, 2000). Self-reported criminality scales can also be used in examining the relationships between childhood maltreatment and later antisocial and criminal behavior. Some studies have resorted to official records and self-reports in testing whether childhood maltreatment predicts later violent and nonviolent offending. Widom (1989a) targeted 908 cases of child abuse and neglect, drawn from county court records, in which the children were 11 years of age or younger at the time of the abusive incident. She found that the children who were maltreated had a 1.72 times greater risk of becoming registered for a crime 20 years later compared to a group of 667 children who were not maltreated. About 29% of the maltreated children and 21% of the comparison group had an adult criminal record. The respective figures for having an adult criminal record for violent crime were 11% versus 8% in the total sample and 19% versus 13% for males. Official record data was

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thus used for childhood maltreatment and adult criminality, which may have underestimated the true difference between the groups. As Widom (1989b) remarked, individuals in the control group could have been abused, and all criminal behavior may not have become registered in official records. Widom and Shepard (1996) noted that official reports of physical abuse predicted arrests for crimes of violence, whereas self-reports of physical abuse predicted self-reported violent behavior. This is an interesting finding, which may attest more to the different nature of official records and self-reports than to the validity of either as such. Possibly because of the inherent differences between official records and self-report data, the findings on the relationships between childhood abuse and neglect and later criminality are inconsistent (Smith & Thornberry, 1995). McCord (1979) found that childhood abuse was associated with adult violentbut not propertyoffenses. In her study, childhood experiences were based on interview and observational data, whereas criminal records indicated the extent of adult criminal behavior. Similarly, Dutton and Hart (1992) concluded that childhood physical abuse increased the risk of adult violent crime. Moreover, they reported that childhood sexual abuse predicted sexual violence in adulthood. Zingraff, Leiter, Myers, and Johnson (1993) found no significant differences between groups of youth who were abused and youth who were not abused in charges for violent or property crimes. The groups differed from each other in only overall criminality and in minor offenses. Smith and Thornberry (1995) gathered data on childhood maltreatment experiences and later crime with the help of official records and self-reports. Their findings showed that childhood maltreatment was related to criminal records and selfreported criminal behavior. The relationship was especially strong for serious crime, including violent offenses. Despite the interest in the relationship between childhood maltreatment and self-reported or officially registered criminal behavior, there is a paucity of studies on the specific relationships between types of childhood maltreatment (physical, psychological, sexual abuse, neglect) and types of offenses. Moreover, most studies have utilized official records. Self-reports have been rarely used to examine the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adult criminal behavior. The current study provided an opportunity to obtain addi-

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tional information regarding the consistency between self-reported and official record data. The primary objective of the current study, however, was to examine whether childhood maltreatment would predict adult criminal behavior in a sample of young prison inmates, if (a) self-report data were used for childhood maltreatment and crimes and if (b) the sources of information were the child protection services files and criminal records. A related aim was to look at the specific relationships between types of maltreatment and types of offenses.

From among all male inmates born 1972 or later, 131 young Finnish offenders, randomly selected (in 1994), were asked to participate in the study. Of these, 97 (74%) gave their informed consent. In addition, eight men dropped out for various reasons (e.g., prison leave, escape, trial). The remaining 89 participants ranged in age from 16 to 22 years, with a mean age of 20 years (SD = 1.37). The sample was highly representative of young male prison inmates in Finland, because almost all the young offenders in prison at the time of the current study were reached (the average yearly number of young male prison inmates is 145). According to the archival data, the majority of offenders (n = 48; 54%) had completed grade school, 66% (n = 59) had been maladjusted in school, and 63% (n = 56) had no vocational training. One half of the offenders had been taken into custody by the child protection services. The sample was thus homogeneous with respect to the social and educational background of the participants. Lifetime criminal records showed that the offenders had been convicted of various types of property, violent, traffic, order, and minor offenses. Based on their major sentence, they were divided into violent (n = 52; 58.5%) and nonviolent offenders (n = 37; 41.5%). The violent offenders had convictions for violent offenses, but also for other types of crime. Twenty-three men had been convicted of assault (25.8%), 16 of aggravated assault (17.9%), and 13 of manslaughter/ attempted manslaughter (14.8%). The nonviolent offenders had been convicted of property-type crimes, such as theft, larceny, fraud, pos-

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session of stolen property, forgery, stealing a motor vehicle, or the like, but never of a violent crime. Both groups had been convicted of property, traffic, order, and minor offenses (e.g., resisting an officer). The groups did not differ from each other in the number of lifetime criminal convictions. Most offenders had fewer than 10 convictions (M = 8.36, SD = 5.65). Age at the first official offense ranged from 15 to 20 years, the mean age being 16 years (criminal responsibility begins at age 15 in Finland). The child protection records showed, however, that as many as two thirds of the offenders had committed a crime younger the age of 15 years.

Structured interview and self-reported childhood physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. The participants responded to a 5-section computerized, structured interview designed by the author. The current study focused on the second section of the interview, titled Abuse Forms, in which the respondents were asked about their childhood abuse and neglect experiences. To generate the specific forms of maltreatment, we partially relied on Hart, Germain, and Brassards (1987) types of psychological abuse, Barnett, Manly, and Cicchettis (1993) Maltreatment Classification Schedule, and Zuravins (1991) categories of neglect. For physical abuse, the participants were given the following instruction:
Now Im going to ask you detailed questions about things that you may have experienced at the hands of your parents in your family-of-origin. Id like you to tell me how many times, when you were younger than 15 years old, you experienced any of the things I mention.

The participants were then handed a form with the response categories of never, once, twice, 3 to 4 times, 5 to 9 times, 10 times or more and asked about specific forms of physical abuse. The respective frequency values for the options were 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The selfreported physical abuse variable was a sum of the frequency values of 20 forms of physical abuse (see Appendix A). For sexual abuse, similar instructions and response options were presented, and the participants were questioned as to 11 forms of sex-

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ual abuse (see Appendix A). Only three sexual abuse items were present in the sample, and the self-reported sexual abuse variable was thus a sum of the frequency values of these three items (sexual suggestions or insinuating gestures, exposure to pornographic material, witnessing sexual activity). For psychological abuse, the instruction was paired with the options of never, seldom (once or twice), occasionally (3 to 4 times), often (5 to 9 times), all the time (10 times or more), and as many as 67 specific forms of psychological abuse were presented to the participants. Because the frequency values for the options were 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, the items were handled as continuous variables. The forms of psychological abuse belonged to the following subgroups: verbal abuse, rejection, accusations, derision and humiliation, excessive or unreasonable expectations of the child, intimidation, seclusion, preventing from moving about and exploring the environment, morally corrupting, exploitation, and living in dangerous or very unstable conditions (detailed descriptions of the categories are available from the authors on request). All the 67 items of psychological abuse that were endorsed by at least one third of the participants (27 items) were factor analyzed (principal components, varimax rotation), yielding three factors accounting for 27%, 9%, and 8% of the variance, respectively. The Bartletts test of sphericity (p < .01) and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy (.72) indicated that a factor analysis was feasible. The factor scores for each participant were derived by the regression method that allows correlating the factor scores even for orthogonal factors. The factor scores constituted the three variables labeled excessive expectations, morally corrupting, and rejection. Examples of the items under excessive expectations were, You were expected to do better and better at school, or you felt your grades were never good enough, and You had to follow rigid rules of behavior, strict discipline, or a daily routine. Morally corrupting was measured with items such as Your home was constantly being visited by all sorts of people, and You were drawn into crime or gangs given to drinking or using drugs. Among the items loading on the factor of rejection were Your sister or brother was favored blatantly or openly, and Overtly negative feelings or hostility were shown toward you. Finally, the respondents were asked about specific forms of childhood neglect, however, because they appeared to

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have considerable difficulty in recalling early experiences of neglect, it was decided not to use this part of the interview. Self-reported criminality (SRC). In the context of the interviews, SRC was measured with 33 items that were compatible with the culture and judicial system of Finland (see Appendix B). The items mostly corresponded with the legal categories of criminal behavior, however, for some categories, such as assault, finer distinctions were made. The offenders were asked about their criminal behavior in written form, with response options being never, once or twice, and more than twice. The SRC items can thus be interpreted as continuous variables, because the frequencies of committing a specific act range from 0 to more than twice. The alpha coefficient for the 33-item scale was .88. Files. After the interviews, childhood abuse and neglect experiences were also examined by collecting the offendersearly files in the child protection services, clinics, and hospitals. The offenders were first given a list of agencies and asked to mark on the list whether they had been clients of any of these agencies when they were younger than the age of 15 years. If the participant gave his written consent, the relevant agencies were then contacted, and a copy of the files was requested. Based on the records received, we were easily able to trace even more records. This procedure resulted in a large number of agency records concerning the participants childhood and early adolescence. Files were received for 78 offenders. The file-based physical abuse variable was constructed based on information about the offenders childhood physical abuse experiences from the files and consisted of three categories: no mention of physical abuse in files (score = 0), physical abuse (score = 1), and extreme physical abuse (score = 2). If the boy was at least beaten with an object by his parents during childhood, physical abuse was considered to have occurred. If the boy had suffered injuries (bleedings, haematomas, fractures, etc.) as a result of abuse, extreme physical abuse was coded as having been present. File-based psychological abuse was the sum of the 11 subgroups of psychological abuse mentioned above plus institutional psychological abuse (abuse by adults at childrens homes or other institutions). File-based neglect was a sum of nine subgroups of neglect (Barnett et al., 1993; Zuravin, 1991):

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health care, nourishment, hygiene, clothing, shelter and safe environment, monitoring, education, emotional neglect, and abandonment. A subgroup of psychological abuse or neglect was considered to be present if an incident to that effect was described in the files. The offender scored 1 for each type of psychological abuse/neglect found in the files, generating a total sum score of psychological abuse/neglect. No mention of sexual abuse was found in any of the files. Physical abuse and the types of psychological abuse and neglect were clearly identifiable based on the criteria laid down for each specified purpose. The detailed criteria are available on request.

The SCR items were first subjected to factor analysis (principal components, varimax rotation), which yielded five factors (explained variance in parentheses): violence (23.5%), property offenses (9%), fraud (7%), traffic offenses (6%), and vandalism (5%). Conducting factor analysis was meaningful based on the Bartletts test (p < .01) and the KMO statistic (.68). The alpha coefficients for the factors were .80, .84, .85, .71 and .70, respectively. Table 1 presents the items belonging to each factor and their factor loadings. Using sexual violence against a person was removed from the analysis because of zero variance. The factor scores based on the regression method were used in the further analyses. Table 2 presents the differences in self-reported criminal activities for the offender groups. The differences were significant for assault, killing someone, and using violence or threats to elicit money. This indicated that those offenders who were convicted of violent offenses also admitted to a higher number of violent acts than the nonviolent offenders. The factor scores were scaled with a theoretical maximum of 2 and a minimum of 0 to make them manageable for testing the differences between the offender groups in the five factors. Table 3 indicated the

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Haapasalo, Moilanen / OFFICIAL AND SELF-REPORTED ABUSE AND CRIME 135 TABLE 1: Self-Reported Criminality Scale (SRCS) Factors and Their Items With Factor Loadings ( .45) Among Offenders (N = 89)


4. Attacking someone by kicking 6. Attacking someone with the fists or some object 18. Threatening someone with a firearm 32. Using violence or threats to elicit money 5. Attacking someone with a knife 13. Trying to kill someone 3. Stealing less than Finnish marks (FIM) 1000 by other means than robbery 2. Stealing property (other than a car) to a value less than FIM 1000, shoplifting included 16. Hiding stolen goods 31. Traveling in a bus, train, etc., or going to the cinema, concert, or some other public performance without paying 24. Stealing more than FIM 1000 in other ways than by robbery 25. Driving a motor vehicle without holding a driving license 7. Drunken driving (a car or some other motor vehicle) 21. Being chased by the police for speeding 23. Stealing property of another in excess of FIM 1000 27. Gambling

Factor loading
.76 .76 .68 .62 .62 .45 .84 .73 .73 .66 .65 .73 .63 .62 .54 .54 .82 .81 .69 .69 .67 .60 .58 .50




15. Committing a fraud for a gain of less than FIM 1000 22. Committing a fraud for a gain of more than FIM 1000 19. Forging a document Vandalism 33. Being physically cruel to an animal 9. Making harassing phone calls or disturbing someones domestic peace 28. Throwing things (e.g., stones, bottles) at people, animals, or passing vehicles 30. Raising a false alarm (e.g., about a fire) 8. Acts of vandalism

offenders who had convictions for violent offenses scored significantly higher on the factor of self-reported violence.

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TABLE 2: Differences Between Nonviolent and Violent Offenders in SelfReported Criminality Scale Items (SRCS)

1. Stealing cars 2. Property crime < Finnish marks (FIM) 1000 3. Stealing money < FIM 1000 4. Assault by kicking 5. Assault with a knife 6. Assault with the fists/object 7. Drunken driving 8. Vandalism 9. Harassing phone calls 10. Fire setting 11. Sexual violence 12. Drug offenses 13. Trying to kill someone 14. Killing someone 15. Fraud < FIM 1000 16. Hiding stolen goods 17. Robbery 18. Threatening with a firearm 19. Forging a document 20. False statement in a court 21. Speeding 22. Fraud > FIM 1000 23. Property crime > FIM 1000 24. Stealing money > FIM 1000 25. Driving without license 26. Drinking/using drugs in public 27. Gambling 28. Throwing things 29. Trespassing 30. Raising a false alarm 31. Traveling, etc., without paying 32. Violence/threats to elicit money 33. Cruelty to animals

Nonviolent (n)
91.4 (32) 97.1 (34) 94.3 (33) 33.3 (11) 18.2 (6) 62.5 (20) 94.1 (32) 58.8 (20) 54.5 (18) 15.2 (5) 0.0 (0) 82.4 (28) 21.9 (7) 0.0 (0) 60.6 (20) 91.4 (32) 23.5 (8) 51.4 (18) 64.7 (22) 65.7 (23) 85.3 (29) 60.6 (20) 97.0 (32) 85.7 (30) 94.3 (33) 100 (33) 72.7 (24) 42.4 (14) 73.5 (25) 36.4 (12) 94.1 (32) 24.2 (8) 15.2 (5)

Violent (n)
95.9 (47) 98.0 (48) 91.8 (45) 85.4 (41) 52.1 (25) 93.8 (45) 89.8 (44) 73.5 (36) 59.2 (29) 18.8 (9) 0.0 (0) 83.7 (41) 28.6 (14) 14.6 (7) 64.6 (31) 95.9 (47) 18.4 (9) 63.3 (31) 71.4 (35) 69.4 (34) 77.6 (38) 63.8 (30) 93.7 (46) 89.8 (44) 98.0 (48) 98.0 (48) 67.3 (33) 51.0 (25) 85.7 (42) 26.5 (13) 93.9 (46) 57.1 (28) 16.3 (8)

23.08*** 9.51** 12.31***



Note. The responses given to the SRCS items were dichotomized into the categories of never and once or more often. N = 84 due to missing data. *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001.

Correlations between the self-reported and file-based variables are presented in Table 4. Self-reported and file-based physical abuse cor-

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Haapasalo, Moilanen / OFFICIAL AND SELF-REPORTED ABUSE AND CRIME 137 TABLE 3: Differences Between Nonviolent and Violent Offenders in SelfReported Criminality Factors

Total (N = 70) Factor

Violence Property Traffic Fraud Vandalism

Nonviolent (n= 28) M

0.44 1.08 1.10 0.73 0.58

Violent (n = 42) M
0.62 1.09 1.05 0.66 0.59

0.55 1.09 1.07 0.69 0.59

0.22 0.16 0.18 0.23 0.19

0.21 0.14 0.18 0.29 0.20

0.19 0.17 0.17 0.23 0.14

3.70*** <1 1.22 1.10 <1

Note. N = 70 due to missing data. ***p < .001.

related positively and significantly with self-reported violent criminality. There were also significant intercorrelations between the filebased types of maltreatment. Furthermore, self-reported physical abuse was strongly associated with self-reported rejection and excessive expectations. Fewer correlations emerged between self-reported and file-based maltreatment. Self-reported morally corrupting correlated positively with file-based psychological abuse and neglect, however. Next, a logistic regression analysis was conducted to test whether self-reported physical, psychological, and sexual abuse would predict offender group membership (violent vs. nonviolent). None of the independent variables (self-reported physical abuse, self-reported sexual abuse, excessive expectations, morally corrupting, rejection) were significant predictors, however, self-reported physical abuse approached significance (p = .065). A logistic regression analysis was also used to examine whether file-based physical and psychological abuse and neglect would predict violent versus nonviolent group membership, however, none of the variables in the regression equation was significant. The results were similar regardless of whether the interactions of the variables were included in the equation. Second, a standard multiple regression analysis with self-reported physical, psychological, and sexual abuse as the independent variables was used to predict the five self-reported criminality factors. Table 5 presents the standard regression analysis. Self-reported physical abuse significantly predicted self-reported violence, and self-

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TABLE 4: Pearson Intercorrelations Between Abuse and Criminality Factors

.33* .11 .43* .37* .09 .36* .08 .01 .23** .13 .11 .33** .08 .12 .16 .01 .03 .02 .00 .18 .16 .11 .09 .37* .26** .18 .02 .48* .14 .36* .11 .17 .12 .08 .20 .02 .02 .03 .00 .00 .06 .02 .00 .04 .20 .00 .03 .06 .06 .01 .16 .17 .02 .04 .19 .11 .03 .02 .04 .01 .07 .01 .00




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1. F-PhyAbuse 2. F-PsyAbuse 3. F-Neglect 4. S-PhyAbuse 5. S-Expectations 6. S-Corrupting 7. S-Rejection 8. Violence 9. Property 10. Traffic 11. Fraud 12. Vandalism

.02 .00


Note. F-PhyAbuse = File-based physical abuse, F-PsyAbuse = File-based psychological abuse; F-Neglect = File-based neglect; S-PhyAbuse = Self-reported physical abuse; S-Expectations = Self-reported psychological abuse/expectations; S-Corrupting = Self-reported morally corrupting; S-Rejection = Self-reported rejection. N = 70 for the correlations between variables 8 to 12 and other variables (excluding variable 1); N = 89 for the intercorrelations between variables 2 and 7; and Ns vary from 54 to 67 for the correlations between variable 1 and other variables due to missing information. *p < .01; **p < .05.


reported psychological abuse (excessive expectations), in turn, was a significant predictor of self-reported vandalism. However, the independent variables accounted for only 17% and 16% of the variance, respectively. The overall prediction tended to reach significance for violence and vandalism. Next, file-based physical and psychological abuse and neglect were used as independent variables to predict selfreported criminality. File-based physical abuse predicted selfreported violence, and file-based neglect predicted self-reported property offenses. Again, the overall regression model failed to reach significance. The file-based variables explained only 14% and 11% of the variance. Entering the interactions in the equation did not change the findings.

The current study introduced a Finnish Self-Reported Criminality Scale with 33 items and five factors: violence, property, traffic, fraud, and vandalism. The factors were highly reliable in terms of internal consistency. The official criminal record data concerning violent versus nonviolent offending and the self-reported criminality data were consistent in that the violent offenders reported more violent crime than the property offenders. Childhood physical abuse was a significant predictor of self-reported violent criminality, however, the variance explained by the abuse variables together failed to reach significance. Moreover, childhood maltreatment failed to predict officially registered criminality. The current study provided additional evidence for the consistency between self-reported and official criminality data. The convergence between self-reported violence and officially registered violent crime spoke for the validity of the self-reports in examining criminal behavior among prison inmates. The offenders who had been convicted of violent crimes admitted to their violent behavior in the self-report questionnaire. On the other hand, the nonviolent property offenders revealed violent behavior that had not been officially registered. Most of the previous findings on the matter have concerned delinquents who have been younger than the participants of the current study; however, the same appears to hold true for young offenders in prison.

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TABLE 5: Standard Multiple Regression Analysis to Predict Self-Reported Criminality Factors

Dependent Variable and Independent Variables in the Equation

Violence S-PhyAbuse S-Expectations S-Corrupting S-Rejection Sexual Abuse Vandalism S-PhyAbuse S-Expectations S-Corrupting S-Rejection Sexual Abuse Violence F-PhyAbuse F-PsyAbuse F-Neglect Property F-PhyAbuse F-PsyAbuse F-Neglect .47** .09 .07 .03 .06 .06 .30* .19 .21 .12 .28* .11 .15 .11 .03 .30*

.01 .12 .14 .11 .35 .02 .13 .15 .12 .38 .16 .10 .09 .12 .08 .07


Adj. R 2





















Note. F-PhyAbuse = File-based physical abuse; F-PsyAbuse = File-based psychological abuse; F-Neglect = File-based neglect; S-PhyAbuse = Self-reported physical abuse; S-Expectations = Self-reported psychological abuse/expectations; S-Corrupting = Selfreported morally corrupting; S-Rejection = Self-reported rejection. *p < .05; **p < .01

Considerable information has been accumulated on the relationship between childhood maltreatment and later criminal behavior in recent studies (e.g., Dutton & Hart, 1992; Widom, 1989a; Widom & Ames, 1994; Widom & White, 1997). Less is known about the correspondence between the type of childhood abuse and the type of adult offending. In the current study, childhood physical abuse predicted criminal violence but none of the other forms of offending. A certain degree of isomorphism (similarity of forms) could be assumed between the type of childhood maltreatment experiences and the type

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of adult offending. Physically abused children appeared to become criminally violent in adulthood. Self-reported violence was likely to give a truer picture of violent criminal behavior than the criminal records, thus underlining the importance of this finding. Furthermore, the findings cannot be explained by the shared method variance self-reports predicting self-reportsbecause file-based physical abuse also predicted self-reported violence. Self-reported psychological abuse (excessive expectations) significantly predicted self-reported vandalism. Vandalism has been conceptualized recently as one stage in a developmental pathway consisting of an escalation in covert problem behaviors (Loeber & Hay, 1997). In the covert pathway of antisocial development, minor covert behavior (e.g., shoplifting) leads to property damage and, finally, to moderate or serious property-type delinquency, such as fraud, burglary, and serious theft. Vandalism would thus be an antecedent of property crime. The vandalism items in the present scale included acts of undifferentiated disorderly behavior, some of which were directed at animals or objects. The scale also included acts of aggression not involving direct physical force against another person. Based on the trauma model (see Carlson, Furby, Armstrong, & Shlaes, 1997; Haapasalo & Pokela, 1999), it can be assumed that psychological abuse in childhood has the potential for inducing traumatization and aggressive feelings that require an outlet such as vandalizing and damaging the environment. Psychological abuse may be traumatic when it causes overwhelming fear and feelings of helplessness. Property offenses were predicted only by file-based neglect. It should be noted that file-based neglect constituted serious neglect verified by the child protection authorities. Serious physical and emotional neglect is commonly found in the background of offenders. In Widoms (1989b) study, victims of physical abuse had the highest number of arrests for violent crime (15.8%), followed by victims of neglect (12.5%). However, no information about the number of property crimes was provided. This prompts the interesting hypothesis that children who were neglected-only would be at an increased risk of nonviolent property-type offending, whereas children who were physically abused would evidence a higher risk of later violent offending. Some findings arising from retrospective interview data, however, are contradictory. For example, Weeks and Widom (1998) found

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in their study of 301 convicted adult offenders that about 20% of the violent, but only 6% of the nonviolent offenders, reported childhood neglect (child protection or other official records were not used in the study). The parenting and child abuse antecedents of those offenders who engage in violent and property crime, and those who are nonviolent and commit only property-type crime, should be examined in more detail. In fact, Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber (1998) commented that the most important comparison groups with respect to the development of antisocial behavior are precisely these two groups because we need to know more about the different causes of violent and nonviolent patterns of offending. Interestingly, in the current study file-based childhood maltreatment substantiated by the child protection authorities did not predict official criminal record data. Concern has been expressed about the lower threshold for violent families with multiple problems in coming to the attention of official agencies and its effects on the observed relationship between childhood maltreatment and adult offending (Smith & Thornberry, 1995). In the current study, appearing in the records of the agencies as a child was not, however, predictive of being in the criminal register as an adult. Even if the self-reported and official criminal data were consistent in the current study, enough room for uncertainty with respect to the reliability of the self-reports remains (see Stone et al., 2000). Consideration should be given to social desirability issues. The offenders perhaps admitted fewer incidents of childhood maltreatment and fewer crimes than they actually had committed. Severely abused individuals sometimes deny or minimize their experiences of maltreatment (Della Femina, Yeager, & Lewis, 1990; Stein & Lewis, 1992). In addition, studies indicate that approximately 40% of abused or neglected persons do not report their maltreatment experiences in adulthood (Widom & Shepard, 1996). Sexual abuse can also be underreported. In Williams(1994) study, 38% did not report any such incidents. Widom and Morris (1997) found that 16% of their sample of sexually abused men and 64% of the women considered their experiences sexual abuse. In the current study, sexual abuse was rarely reported, however, in view of the previous findings, the figures may be underestimated. Failure either to recall or to interpret the experiences as abuse may influence the findings.

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Berger, Knutson, Mehm, and Perkins (1988) examined abuse experiences among college students of the same age as in the current study. They pointed out that many severely abused participants did not find their experiences abusive. In the current study, the risk of misinterpretation was low because very concrete forms of abuse were presented to the respondents (e.g., being punched, being hit with an object, strangulation). Memory lapses and distortions could have biased the findings, however. If childhood experiences are unique and salient, they are usually remembered well, even though peripheral details and quantitative assessments, such as the exact time, frequency, or sequence of the events, may be forgotten (Brewin, Andrews, & Gotlib, 1993; Hyman & Loftus, 1998). From this it can be inferred that the occurrence of maltreatment in childhood is likely to be remembered as an emotional and salient event, but that the recall of when, how often, or in what order everything happened may be more difficult. It may be wiser to ask only if an abusive incident occurred or not instead of asking how frequently it occurred. Similar difficulties are probably involved in the recall of criminal activities. The co-occurrence of different types of maltreatment makes the interpretation of the findings difficult. For example, the fact that physical abuse is intertwined with psychological abuse may have obscured the analyses and influenced the absence of predictive relationships between the types of childhood maltreatment and the self-reported criminality factors. On the other hand, the interactions between the abuse variables did not affect the prediction of criminality. Second, the high prevalence of property, traffic, and minor offenses may have had an effect on the results. The type of childhood maltreatment may not make any difference when the prevalence of particular types of crime is high. A further limitation of the current study deals with the limited number of predictors of self-reported criminality. Childhood maltreatment is but one of the risk factors of future criminal behavior. This is also reflected by the low percentages of the current study. For example, less than 20% of the variance in self-reported violence was predicted by self-reported physical abuse, which means that more than 80% can be explained by other factors. The current study had to ignore most of the other individual, family, and peer group factors that hold promise for predicting criminal behavior. This limitation results from the trade-off between focusing on childhood maltreatment alone

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as a risk factor of criminality and including all the possible risk factors in the study. Finally, the findings can be generalized to young male offenders in prison, but not to other populations. Megargee (1995) advised against generalizing studies conducted in correctional settings to the other populations. The prison setting itself may have a negative effect on the imprisoned individuals, and this may be reflected in the prisoners personality and behavior. The prison environment is equivalent to a different culture, and the findings obtained in one culture should not be directly applied to another. Consequently, it would be worthwhile to investigate whether the predictive relationships observed between self-reported childhood abuse and later violent offending would hold up in other populations as well. It is a well-known fact that not all individuals who commit crimes get caught. The criminal record data do not disclose the real numbers and types of crimes. It is equally true that not all child maltreatment incidents are detected by the child protection authorities. In most cases, more information on criminal activities or childhood maltreatment experiences is only likely to be obtained by self-reports.

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APPENDIX A Self-Reported Physical Abuse At home, (under the age of 15 years, by your parents) were you . . .
1. Slapped or struck with an open hand? 2. Pushed, shoved, knocked down, or shaken? 3. Pulled by the hair? 1. A family member made sexual suggestions to you or you had to listen to sexual insinuations? 2. Made you look at porn or watch porn films in his/her company? 3. Made/allowed you watch family members doing sexual things or having sex (e.g., masturbation, touching, intercourse)? 4. Made you look at his or her genitals or show your own genitals? 5. Touched you in a sexual way?

4. Punched with a fist?

5. Hit with an object (e.g., a belt, stick, whip, piece of wire, bat, brush, broom, ruler)? 6. Struck by a thrown object? 6. Made you touch him or her in a sexual way? 7. Forced to eat something that was 7. Tried to have intercourse or other inedible (e.g., soap, pepper)? sexual things (e.g., masturbation, oral sex) with you without succeeding? 8. Kicked? 8. Forced you to have intercourse or other sexual things without using violence? 9. Spat at or bitten? 9. Forced you to have intercourse with him or her using force or a weapon? 10. Beaten up? 10. Gave you up or offered you for sexual purposes for money or forced you to offer yourself for money? 11. Burned with something (e.g., a 11. Used you while making porn photos hotplate, cigarette, hot water)? or videos? 12. Stuck with needles or other objects? 13. Slashed or cut with an object? 14. Tied or dangled so that pain was felt? 15. Drugged with alcohol or medicine? 16. Strangled or suffocated? 17. Flung somewhere (e.g., down the stairs) or thrown at or against something (e.g., a wall)? 18. Shot at? 19. Tortured? 20. Abused in some other way (describe)?

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APPENDIX B Self-Reported Criminality Scale

Instructions: Next Id like to ask you about things that youve done and gotten caught doing. Id also like to know about things youve gotten away with. How many times in your life have you committed any of the acts listed below, whether you were caught or not? Please circle the appropriate alternative.
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Stealing a car or some other motor vehicle. Stealing property of another (other than car) to a value less than Finnish marks (FIM) 1000, shoplifting included. Stealing less than FIM 1000 by other means than robbery. Attacking someone by kicking. Attacking someone with a knife. Attacking someone by striking with the fists or some object. Drunken driving (a car or some other motor vehicle). Acts of vandalism: placing obstructions on roads or railways, breaking or defacing objects or places, or destroying or damaging things in other ways (e.g., seats on buses, phone booths, tombstones, windows or walls on buildings, car tires, traffic signs). Making harassing phone calls or disturbing someones domestic peace. Setting a building on fire. Using sexual violence against someone. Smuggling, selling, or buying drugs. Trying to kill someone. Killing someone. Committing a fraud for a gain of less than FIM 1000. Hiding stolen goods. Robbing a post office, bank, restaurant, or some other place that keeps money by threatening the people who work there with a firearm or by using violence.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

Threatening someone with a firearm. Forging a document, for example, an identity card. Making a false statement in a court. Being chased by the police for speeding. Committing a fraud for a gain of more than FIM 1000. Stealing property of another in excess of FIM 1000. Stealing more than FIM 1000 in other ways than by robbery. Driving a motor vehicle without holding a driving license. Consuming alcoholic drinks or drugs in a public place (e.g., in a park, in the street, on a bus). Gambling (e.g., at cards and for high stakes). Throwing things (e.g., stones, bottles) at people, animals, or passing vehicles. Trespassing on a private estate or breaking into a building or other private property just for the fun of it. Raising a false alarm (e.g., about a fire). Traveling in a bus, train etc. or going to the cinema, a concert, or some other public performance without paying. Using violence or threats to elicit money. Being physically cruel to an animal.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2

>2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 >2 <2

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