Examining the Intergenerational Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Parenting Practices, Offspring Antisocial Behavior, and Later Criminal Offending Open Access

Brown, April L. (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/4q77fr932?locale=en


Background: Crime is considered a threat to community safety and to community health, and therefore has peaked interest across disciplines. Studies have identified associations between 1) parenting practices and antisocial behaviors and 2) antisocial behaviors and criminal offending. Considering the relationships between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and parenting practices, ACEs and antisocial behaviors, and ACEs and criminal offending, it is interesting that few studies have examined the intergenerational effects of ACEs on antisocial behavior and criminal offending.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of ACEs in predicting parenting practices, offspring antisocial behavior, and later criminality. Using the Life Course Model as a framework for how intrapersonal and interpersonal factors influence behavioral development, this study aimed to assess 1) the effects of caregiver ACEs on offspring ACEs and parenting practices; 2) the intergenerational effects of ACEs and parenting practices on offspring antisocial behavior, and 3) the intergenerational effects of ACEs, parenting practices, and antisocial behavior on subsequent criminal offending.

Method: This study used data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect Assessments 0-18, which includes a sample of children (N=902) and their mothers who were followed from age ≤4 through age 18 to assess the etiology and impact of child maltreatment. The effects of caregiver-level factors on child-level factors and criminal offending were estimated by constructing a series of regression models, including tests for effect modification.

Results: Results indicated that caregiver history of maltreatment predicted later family hardship, caregiver discipline tactics, and offspring antisocial behaviors; offspring childhood adversity, parental monitoring, and caregiver discipline tactics were associated with offspring antisocial behavior; and offspring exposure to violence and antisocial behaviors predicted later criminal offending.

Conclusion and Recommendation: Results may allude to distal associations when assessing the intergenerational effects of adverse childhood experiences on criminal offending, but it is clear that the primary point of intervention may be to increase effective parenting practices. Discipline tactics that mirror an authoritative style appear to reduce child antisocial behavior, and may potentially mitigate the effects of antisocial behaviors and exposure to violence on later criminal offending.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction ...1

II. Literature Review ...4

Pathways to Criminality ...4

Theoretical Framework ...7

Socio-Ecological Perspective ...7

Life Course Model: A Coherent Framework for the Development of Criminality ...9

Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Intergenerational Transmission of Violence ... 11

Bridging the Gap: Study Aims ... 16

III. Method ... 18

Sample and Setting ... 18

Measures ... 19

Data Analyses ... 24

IV. Results ... 26

Sample Characteristics ... 26

Aim 1 ... 26

Aim 2 ... 27

Aim 3 ... 30

V. Discussion ... 33

Aim 1 ... 33

Aim 2 ... 35

Aim 3 ... 38

Conclusion ... 40

Study Limitations ... 40

Implications and Recommendations ... 42

References ... 43

Table 1. Characteristics of Study Participants ... 57

Table 2. Caregiver Characteristics by Child Offender Status ... 58

Table 3. Summary of Analyses ... 59

Table 4. Multinomial Logistic Regression Results - Discipline Tactics... 61

Table 5. Multiple Linear Regression Results - Antisocial Behaviors... 62

Table 6. Multiple Logistic Regression Results - Criminal Offending... 63

Table 7. Multiple Logistic Regression Results - Criminal Offending Reduced ...64

Figure 1. Life Course Model ...66

Figure 2. Conceptual Framework ...67

Figure 3. Change in Antisocial Behavior by Offender Status ...68

Figure 4. Revised Conceptual Framework ...69

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