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Examining the Link Between Child Abuse and Youth Violence: An Analysis of Mediating Mechanisms

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 18 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2003 Pages: 1189-1208
Todd I. Herrenkohl; Bu Huang; Emiko A. Tajima; Stephen D. Whitney
Date Published
October 2003
20 pages
Several factors are investigated as possible mediators of physical child abuse in the prediction of violence among adolescents and the predictive equivalence for prospective and retrospective measures of child abuse in mediation tests.
The study highlights several mediating mechanisms through which abuse might increase risk for youth violence. It was found that prospective and retrospective measures of abuse provided some similar and some different findings in mediation tests. Findings suggest that abusive discipline, whether measured prospectively or retrospectively, predicts violent behavior indirectly through variables that reflect later social experiences of youths and their attitudes. The findings also suggest that although abuse is indeed an important predictor of violence during adolescence, most of the explanatory power achieved in the analysis is from proximal adolescent variables, such as school commitment and antisocial peer involvement. In this study, several factors were investigated as potential mediators of physical abuse in the prediction of violent behavior in adolescence. It also examined the predictive equivalence of prospective and retrospective measures of child abuse in mediation tests. Data were from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, a prospective study of 457 children followed from preschool into adolescence. Structural equation models examined a degree to which abuse was mediated in the prediction of violence through youths’ bonds to family, commitment to school, involvement with antisocial peers during adolescence, and attitudes about the use of violence. Tables, figures, and references