Child maltreatment and offending behavior: Gender-specific effects and pathways

James Topitzes, Joshua P. Mersky, Arthur J. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


This study assessed the association between child maltreatment (ages 0-11) and offending behavior within gender-specific models. Prospectively collected data, including official measures of maltreatment and offending, were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel study of 1,539 low-income minority participants. Multivariate probit analyses revealed that maltreatment significantly predicted delinquency for males but not females yet forged a significant relation to adult crime for both genders. Exploratory, confirmatory, and comparative analyses suggested that mechanisms linking maltreatment to adult crime primarily differed across gender. For males, childhood-era externalizing behavior and school commitment along with adolescent-era socioemotional skills, delinquency, and educational attainment explained the maltreatment-crime nexus. For females, childhood-era parent factors along with adolescent indicators of externalizing behavior, cognitive performance, mobility, and educational attainment partially mediated the maltreatment-crime relation. Implications of results were explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-510
Number of pages19
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • adult crime
  • child maltreatment
  • gender
  • juvenile delinquency
  • mediation analysis


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