You Learn What You Live: Prevalence of Childhood Adversity in the Lives of Juveniles Arrested for Sexual Offenses
ocial workers often find themselves working with children or adolescents who have been victims of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including youths who have ended up in the juvenile justice system. Childhood trauma has been linked to negative health, mental health, and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence rates of child maltreatment and household dysfunction in the lives of juveniles who have been arrested for sexual offenses (JSO; n = 6,549). ACE prevalence rates for JSOs were compared by gender to juveniles arrested for other crimes, to adults arrested for sexual offenses, and to the general population. Youths in the delinquency system in Florida had much higher rates of high-ACE scores than the general population, indicating that they came from households where the accumulation and variety of early adversity is a salient feature in their lives. For those who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior, the existence of early maltreatment and family problems was prominent. Through a better understanding of the traumatic experiences of these youths, we can inform and enhance interventions designed to improve the functioning of sexually abusive juvenile clients and their families, and reduce risk of future recidivism.
Abbiati, M., Mezzo, B., Waeny-Desponds, J., Minervini, J., Mormont, C., & Gravier, B. (2014). Victimization in childhood of male sex offenders: Relationship between violence experienced and subsequent offenses through discourse analysis. Victims & Offenders, 9(2), 234-254. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2014.881763
Abram, K. M., Teplin, L. A., Charles, D. R., Longworth, S. L., McClelland, G. M., & Dulcan, M. K. (2004). Posttraumatic stress disorder and trauma in youth in juvenile detention. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61(4), 403-410. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.61.4.403
Alink, L. R., Cicchetti, D., Kim, J., & Rogosch, F. A. (2012). Longitudinal associations among child maltreatment, social functioning, and cortisol regulation. Developmental Psychology, 48(1), 224. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024892
Anda, R. F., Butchart, A., Felitti, V. J., & Brown, D. W. (2010). Building a framework for global surveillance of the public health implications of adverse childhood experiences. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39(1), 93-98. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2010.03.015
Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C., Perry, B. D., . . . Giles, W. H. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256, 174-186. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-005-0624-4
Baglivio, M. T., & Epps, N. (2016). The interrelatedness of adverse childhood experiences among high-risk juvenile offenders. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 14(3), 179-198. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1541204014566286
Baglivio, M. T., Epps, N., Swartz, K., Huq, M. S., Sheer, A., & Hardt, N. S. (2014). The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) in the lives of juvenile offenders. Journal of Juvenile Justice, 3(2), 1-23.
Baglivio, M. T., Wolff, K. T., Piquero, A. R., Bilchik, S., Jackowski, K., Greenwald, M. A., & Epps, N. (2016). Maltreatment, child welfare, and recidivism in a sample of deep-end crossover youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(4), 625-654. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0407-9
Barrett, D. E., Katsiyannis, A., Zhang, D., & Zhang, D. (2013). Delinquency and recidivism: A multicohort, matched-control study of the role of early adverse experiences, mental health problems, and disabilities. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1063426612470514
Borduin, C. M., Schaeffer, C. M., & Heiblum, N. (2009). A randomized clinical trial of multisystemic therapy with juvenile sexual offenders: Effects on youth social ecology and criminal activity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77, 26-37. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013035
Bowlby, J. (1977). The making and breaking of affectional bonds. I. Aetiology and psychopathology in the light of attachment theory. An expanded version of the Fiftieth Maudsley Lecture, delivered before the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 19 November 1976. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 130(3), 201-210. doi:https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.130.3.201
Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. London, England: Routledge.
Burton, D. L., Duty, K. J., & Leibowitz, G. S. (2011). Differences between sexually victimized and nonsexually victimized male adolescent sexual abusers: Developmental antecedents and behavioral comparisons. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 20(1), 77-93. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/10538712.2011.541010
Bushman, B. J., Baumeister, R. F., & Phillips, C. M. (2001). Do people aggress to improve their mood? Catharsis beliefs, affect regulation opportunity, and aggressive responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 17-32. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.52
Carlson, E. A., & Sroufe, L. A. (1995). Contribution of attachment theory to developmental psychopathology. In D. C. D. J. Cohen (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology: Theory and methods (vol. 1, pp. 581-617). Oxford, England: John Wiley & Sons.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Adverse Childhood Experience Study: Major findings. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ace/findings.htm
Chakhssi, F., Ruiter, C., & Bernstein, D. P. (2013). Early maladaptive cognitive schemas in child sexual offenders compared with sexual offenders against adults and nonsexual violent offenders: An exploratory study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10(9), 2201-2210. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12171
Cicchetti, D., & Banny, A. (2014). A developmental psychopathology perspective on child maltreatment. In M. Lewis & K. Rudolph (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychopathology (pp. 723-741). NY: Springer. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9608-3_37
Cloitre, M., Stolbach, B. C., Herman, J. L., Kolk, B. v. d., Pynoos, R., Wang, J., & Petkova, E. (2009). A developmental approach to complex PTSD: Childhood and adult cumulative trauma as predictors of symptom complexity. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22(5), 399-408. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20444
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., Kliethermes, M., & Murray, L. A. (2012). Trauma-focused CBT for youth with complex trauma. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(6), 528-541. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.03.007
Creeden, K. (2009). How trauma and attachment can impact neurodevelopment: Informing our understanding and treatment of sexual behaviour problems. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 15(3), 261-273. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/13552600903335844
Dierkhising, C. B., Ko, S. J., Woods-Jaeger, B., Briggs, E. C., Lee, R., & Pynoos, R. S. (2013). Trauma histories among justice-involved youth: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 4(1), 1-12. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.20274
Dietz, P. M., Spitz, A. M., Anda, R. F., Williamson, D. F., McMahon, P. M., Santelli, J. S., . . . Kendrick, J. S. (1999). Unintended pregnancy among adult women exposed to abuse or household dysfunction during their childhood. Jama, 282(14), 1359-1364. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.282.14.1359
Douglas, K. R., Chan, G., Gelernter, J., Arias, A. J., Anton, R. F., Weiss, R. D., . . . Kranzler, H. R. (2010). Adverse childhood events as risk factors for substance dependence: Partial mediation by mood and anxiety disorders. Addictive Behaviors, 35(1), 7-13. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.07.004
Eckenrode, J., Smith, E. G., McCarthy, M. E., & Dineen, M. (2014). Income inequality and child maltreatment in the United States. Pediatrics, 133(3), 454-461. doi:https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-1707
Edwards, V. J., Holden, G. W., Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2003). Relationship between multiple forms of childhood maltreatment and adult mental health in community respondents: Results from the adverse childhood experiences study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(8), 1453-1460. doi:https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.160.8.1453
Felitti, V. J. (2002). The relation between adverse childhood experiences and adult health: Turning gold into lead. The Permanente Journal, 6(1), 44-47.
Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., . . . Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-3797(98)00017-8
Finkelhor, D., & Kendall-Tackett, K. (1997). A developmental perspective on the childhood impact of crime, abuse, and violent victimization. In D. Cicchetti & S. Toth (Eds.), Rochester Symposium on Developmental Psychopathology: Developmental perspectives on trauma: Theory, Research, and Intervention (Vol. 8, pp. 1-32). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H. A., Hamby, S. L., & Ormrod, R. (2011). Polyvictimization: Children's exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.
Ford, J. D., Chapman, J., Connor, D. F., & Cruise, K. R. (2012). Complex trauma and aggression in secure juvenile justice settings. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39(6), 694-724. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854812436957
Grady, M. D., Levenson, J. S., & Bolder, T. (2016). Linking adverse childhood effects and attachment a theory of etiology for sexual offending. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse,¬ 2016, 1-12. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838015627147
Grady, M. D., Swett, L., & Shields, J. J. (2014). The impact of a sex offender treatment programme on the attachment styles of incarcerated male sexual offenders. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 1(20), 1-14.
Harlow, C. W. (1999). Prior abuse reported by inmates and probationers. Rockville, MD: US Department of Justice.
Herman, J. L. (1992). Complex PTSD: A syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5(3), 377-391. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.2490050305
Hillis, S. D., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Nordenberg, D., & Marchbanks, P. A. (2000). Adverse childhood experiences and sexually transmitted diseases in men and women: A retrospective study. Pediatrics, 106(1), 1-11. doi:https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.106.1.e11
Larkin, H., Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2014). Social work and adverse childhood experiences research: Implications for practice and health policy. Social Work in Public Health, 29, 1-16. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/19371918.2011.619433
Levenson, J. S. (2014). Incorporating trauma-informed care into sex offender treatment. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 20(1), 9-22. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/13552600.2013.861523
Levenson, J. S. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences and subsequent substance abuse in a sample of sexual offenders: Implications for treatment and prevention. Victims & Offenders, 11, 199-224. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2014.971478
Levenson, J. S. (2017). Trauma-informed social work practice. Social Work, 62(2), 105-113. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sw/swx001
Levenson, J. S., & Grady, M. D. (2016). The influence of childhood trauma on sexual violence and sexual deviance in adulthood. Traumatology, 22(2), 94-103. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/trm0000067
Levenson, J. S., & Socia, K. M. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences and arrest patterns in a sample of sexual offenders Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31, 1883-1911. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515570751
Levenson, J. S., & Willis, G. M. (2014). Trauma informed care with sexual offenders. In M. Carich (Ed.), Safer society handbook of adult sexual offending assessment and treatment (pp. 243-270). Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press.
Levenson, J. S., Willis, G. M., & Prescott, D. (2015). Adverse childhood experiences in the lives of female sex offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research & Treatment, 27(3), 235-257. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063214544332
Levenson, J. S., Willis, G. M., & Prescott, D. (2016). Adverse childhood experiences in the lives of male sex offenders and implications for trauma-informed care. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research & Treatment, 28(4), 340-359. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063214535819
Loper, A. B., Mahmoodzadegan, N., & Warren, J. I. (2008). Childhood maltreatment and cluster b personality pathology in female serious offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 20(2), 139-160. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063208317463
Marshall, W. L. (2010). The role of attachments, intimacy, and lonliness in the etiology and maintenance of sexual offending. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 25(1), 73-85. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/14681990903550191
Maschi, T., Gibson, S., Zgoba, K. M., & Morgen, K. (2011). Trauma and life event stressors among young and older adult prisoners. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 17(2), 160-172. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1078345810396682
Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2012). Unsafe at any age: Linking childhood and adolescent maltreatment to delinquency and crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49(2), 295-318. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0022427811415284
Messina, N., Grella, C., Burdon, W., & Prendergast, M. (2007). Childhood adverse events and current traumatic distress a comparison of men and women drug-dependent prisoners. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(11), 1385-1401. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854807305150
Miller, N. A., & Najavits, L. M. (2012). Creating trauma-informed correctional care: A balance of goals and environment. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 3, 1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v3i0.17246
Naramore, R., Bright, M. A., Epps, N., & Hardt, N. S. (2015). Youth Arrested for trading sex have the highest rates of childhood adversity: A statewide study of juvenile offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 29(4), 1-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063215603064
Patterson, G. R., DeBaryshe, B. D., & Ramsey, E. (1990). A developmental perspective on antisocial behavior. American Psychologist, 44(2), 329-335. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.44.2.329
Rutter, M., Kim-Cohen, J., & Maughan, B. (2006). Continuities and discontinuities in psychopathology between childhood and adult life. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(3-4), 276-295. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01614.x
Seto, M. C. (2008). Pedophilia and sexual offending against children: Theory, assessment, and intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/11639-000
Smallbone, S. W., & Dadds, M. R. (1998). Childhood attachment and adult attachment in incarcerated adult male sex offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13(5), 555-573. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/088626098013005001
Strand, V. C., Hansen, S., & Courtney, D. (2013). Common elements across evidence-based trauma treatment: Discovery and implications. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 334-354.
Strand, V. C., Sarmiento, T. L., & Pasquale, L. E. (2005). Assessment and screening tools for trauma in children and adolescents: A review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 6(1), 55-78. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838004272559
Streeck-Fischer, A., & van der Kolk, B. A. (2000). Down will come baby, cradle and all: Diagnostic and therapeutic implications of chronic trauma on child development. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34(6), 903-918. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/000486700265
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2014a). SAMHSA's concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach. Retrieved from http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA14-4884/SMA14-4884.pdf
SAMHSA. (2014b). Treatment involved protocol 57: Trauma-Informed care in behavioral health services. Retrieved from http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA14-4816/SMA14-4816.pdf
U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). State quick facts: Florida. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html
van der Kolk, B. (2006). Clinical implications of neuroscience research in PTSD. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071(1), 277-293. doi:https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1364.022
van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. NY: Penguin.
Wald, J., & Losen, D. J. (2003). Defining and redirecting a school to prison pipeline. New Directions for Youth Development, 2003(99), 9-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.51
Weiss, M. J. S., & Wagner, S. H. (1998). What explains the negative consequences of adverse childhood experiences on adult health? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 356-360.
Widom, C. S., & Massey, C. (2015). A Prospective examination of whether childhood sexual abuse predicts subsequent sexual offending. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(1), 1-7. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3357
Wolff, K. T., & Baglivio, M. T. (2016). Adverse childhood experiences, negative emotionality, and pathways to juvenile recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, 2016, 1-27. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128715627469
Wolff, K. T., Baglivio, M. T., & Piquero, A. R. (2015). The relationship between adverse childhood experiences and recidivism in a sample of juvenile offenders in community-based treatment. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(11), 1-33. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X15613992
Young, D. S. (2014). Social workers’ perspectives on effective practice in criminal justice settings. Journal of Forensic Social Work, 4(2), 104-122. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/1936928X.2014.948250
Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner's guide. NY: Guilford Press.
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).