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The Purpose of the Article
The article in question deals with the effect of childhood experience and violent behavior in the adulthood. The purpose of the study was to analyze the impact negative childhood experiences could have on people’s violent and deviant behavior. Levenson and Grady (2016) note that recent studies show that approximately two-thirds of the participants reported some type of childhood trauma. Over 10% of people stated that they had three or more types of maltreatment. Such experiences have proved to be associated with psychological issues as well as violent behaviors and engagement in criminal activity. The researchers hypothesize that childhood maltreatment often translates into violent and deviant sexual behavior in adulthood. Such factors as victim gender and age, the frequency of deviant or violent behaviors, and the number of victims were measured.
The Key Question and Methods
The major question the researchers addressed was whether maltreatment in childhood was associated with sexual violence in adulthood. The study consisted of two stages. First, the researchers evaluated the participants’ childhood experiences with the help of Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale. This scale included such areas as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. After that, the peculiarities of the committed offenses were analyzed. The focus was on sexual violence and sexual deviance.
The researchers report that the participants were adult sex offenders who were predominantly male (93.5%). The vast majority of the participants were adults aged between 31 and 60, and 68% were white. Two-thirds of the people who took part in the study had a high-school education. Over a half of the participants had a yearly income of $30,000 or less. Almost 50% were never married, and 35% were divorced. The researchers display findings that show that high ACE scores were associated with sexual violence and deviance in later life.
Levenson and Grady (2016) note that such factors as childhood sexual abuse, mental illness of a parent, emotional neglect, and unmarried parents were associated with deviance in people’s sexual behaviors. At the same time, the researchers stress that although regression models have proved to be statistically significant when measuring ACE items, the evaluated effect sizes were not characterized by statistical significance. Violent behaviors in adulthood were often linked to such childhood experiences as physical child abuse, incarcerated relatives, substance abuse of family members. The researchers state that these findings can be helpful when treating offenders as people working with them should be trauma-informed professionals. Widom and Massey (2015) also claim that effective intervention can reduce the risk of the development of violent sexual behaviors in people who experienced maltreatment in their childhood.
The researchers outline the major limitations of their study. Levenson and Grady (2016) emphasize that the analyzed information was given by offenders through self-reports. Clearly, offenders could try to distort data to blame their parents or other people. At the same time, it pointed out that some participants could underreport the trauma as they could be too young to understand what was really happening. Furthermore, the ACE scale is also characterized by some gaps as the duration or frequency of maltreatment is not measured. This tool also fails to measure the impact of various environmental issues such as socioeconomic status, illness, discrimination, neighborhoods, and so on. It is possible to conclude that the methods used were quite one-sided as the data were provided by offenders themselves and influential predictors of violent behavior such as the environment and current status of the offender were disregarded. However, the research still provides insights into possible areas to focus on when developing and implementing treatment for such offenders.
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. Web.
Widom, C., & Massey, C. (2015). A prospective examination of whether childhood sexual abuse predicts subsequent sexual offending. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(1). Web.