A longitudinal study examining childhood traumas and protective factors on criminal offending in young adulthood

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Quinn, Karson
Thrane, Lisa E.

Three waves of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) 1994-2008 data were used to examine childhood traumas parental and school protective and risk factors. Deviance was a Wave IV binary measure constructed from an index of 12 items, such as stealing, using a weapon, and damaging property, to assess criminal offending in young adulthood. Using life course theory with a sample of 3,772 respondents, this quantitative analysis evaluated childhood trauma and the role of mediating factors on deviance in adulthood. Youth were about two times more likely to criminally offend in young adulthood after experiencing childhood trauma. Respondents who reported a higher attachment to school and teachers were more likely not to criminally offend as adults. There was evidence of partial mediation as school suspension (Wave I) and parental closeness (Wave III) reduced the effects of trauma on criminal offending. This study discusses policy implications and the role of childhood trauma as a public health problem calling for trauma-informed approaches to handling children acting out.

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Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Sociology