Varieties of Violent Behavior

 

 

Cathy Spatz Widom

Criminology

August 11, 2014

 

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1745-9125.12046/abstract

 

There is an implicit assumption of homogeneity across violent behaviors and offenders in the criminology literature. Arguing against this assumption, I draw on three distinct literatures [child abuse and neglect (CAN) and violence, violence and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and CAN and PTSD] to provide a rationale for an examination of varieties of violent behaviors. I use data from my prospective cohort design study of the long-term consequences of CAN to define three varieties of violent offenders using age of documented cases of CAN, onset of PTSD, and first violent arrest in a temporally correct manner [CAN [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] to violence, CAN [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] PTSD [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] violence (PTSD first), and CAN [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] violence [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] PTSD (violence first)], and a fourth variety, violence only. The results illustrate meaningful heterogeneity in violent behavior and different developmental patterns and characteristics. There are three major implications: First, programs and policies that target violence need to recognize the heterogeneity and move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Second, violence prevention policies and programs that target abused and neglected children are warranted, given the prominent role of CAN in the backgrounds of these violent offenders. Third, criminologists and others interested in violence need to attend to the role of PTSD, which is present in about one fifth (21 percent) of these violent offenders, and not relegate the study of these offenders to the psychiatric and psychological literatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee

www.hsjcc.on.ca/