A Life Course Perspective Approach to the Cycle of Violence

Abigail Fagan, University of Colorado - Boulder

Cycle of violence theorists have recently moved from demonstrating that the cycle exists to identifying the specific ways in which childhood victimization leads to criminal offending. This paper contributes to such research by utilizing data from the National Youth Survey. The NYS is particularly suited for this type of investigation, as it includes detailed information regarding drug and alcohol offenses, juvenile delinquency, adult offending, and adult psychological and psychosocial functioning for a wide range of individuals over a long period of time. Moreover, it allows the inclusion of many other relevant variables that may impact the relationship between victimization and offending, including family structure and functioning, place of residence, association with deviant peers, and prior criminality. I utilize a life course perspective in analyzing data from the NYS. In particular, I investigate the ways in which victimization in early and late adolescence impact adult offending, and whether these trajectories are shaped by other important life events. In addition, I broaden the cycle of violence theory to examine the impact of victimization perpetrated by strangers and acquaintances, as well as parents and other family members, on delinquency and offending.

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Updated 05/20/2006