Corellation Between Child Abuse and Juvenile Crime

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Juvenile crimes are crimes committed by children who are aged below 18 years, and who are considered not to be adults. Consequently, six hundred thousand minors are reported to cycle through juvenile detentions. Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said that in 2002 alone, over seven hundred thousand youths were members of street gangs, while U.S. Department of Justice (2013) indicates that 1.8 million children are arrested annually for crimes like loitering and even murder. On the other hand, child abuse is also on the rise. Like in 2015 about one thousand six hundred children died from child abuse in the U.S (National Children Alliance, 2015). In the same year, over three hundred thousand victims of child abuse were supported by the Children’s Advocacy Center.

What is evident is that, while the numbers of children being abused are increasing so does the number of children that are engaging in crimes. This assertion is plausible because U.S. Department of Justice (2013) has noted that the Federal Interagency alongside Child and Family Statistics has recorded increasing number of juvenile cases. In fact, their prediction is that by 2050, the number of juveniles might reach 106 million. The two statistics on the increasing number of child abuse and the growing number of youths raise the question as to whether there is a relationship between these two incidences. Furthermore, researchers are interested in understanding whether child abuse is a primary reason behind child crimes (National Children Alliance, 2015).

Additionally, National Children Alliance (2015) has pointed out that the child maltreatment is likely to double up the probability that the child might at some point engage in crime. There are also other factors that have been pointed out by some scholars such as unemployment and decreased wages as a reason for juvenile delinquencies. Even so, these statistics have only given lower figures. For instance, Finkelhor et al. (2009) found that when unemployment is reduced, the rates of juvenile crimes only decrease by 2.2 percent. In this research proposal, the researcher is as such interested in determining if there is a relationship between child abuse and juvenile crimes so that a different approach can be used to deal with child crimes.


Some experts in the social science field have developed various theories that have been used to explain the connection between child molestation and juvenile crimes. Among the most commonly used approaches are the Social Learning Theory, Social Control Theory, Social Psychological Strain Theory and Social Control Theory. These theories explain that there is a connection between childhood violence and molestation on an individual and their engagement in crimes (Akers, 2017).

Social Learning Theory, for instance, holds that children can become violent or behave violently because they imitate what they see. The theory further indicates that when the children witness that acts of violence can result in positive outcomes such as the acquisition of materials, control over others and social benefits.

Social Control Theory, on the other hand, believes that the behaviors towards crime and evil are natural to the human an even control over such violent and criminal practices are made possible when people maintain their social bonds such as being in a family. When these relationships are interfered with, then children are likely to likely to engage in crimes when their guardians maltreat them (Akers, 2017).

Social psychology on its part looks at child abuse and moderation as the primary reason why people have acute stress. Consequently, most research has studied the connection between child abuse and resulting issues such as a child’s misbehavior or criminal tendencies. Further, these studies have revealed that child abuse can also cause developmental delays as well as changes in the way the child’s brain functions. When these changes happen, then an individual can respond to the environmental stimuli differently. The bottom line of these studies is that maltreatment on children is likely to make a child engage in risky behaviors or develop aggressive tendencies.

Laub and Sampson (1993) on his part has documented that there are increased chances that children who have been abused when they become teens encounter post-traumatic stress and at this stage, they then develop aggressive behaviors and desires to commit a crime. Even though there are no studies that have tried to connect child abuse to economics, there is evidence that when an individual is abused and rendered unable to be productive, it is possible that the economy is disrupted (Akers, 2017). In other words, if maltreatment reduced the accumulation of human capital, then there is a high likelihood that the economy will be impaired. In the end, it is essential to examine how child abuse as an incident in the children’s lives could be a factor that causes juvenile crimes. Based on the theories mentioned, the researcher is researching with the aim of proving the theories right.

Purpose of the Research

The purposes of this research are three major ones which are to prove whether the theories that explain why child abuse can cause crimes are right. Such understanding will increase the knowledge that experts in the criminal justice have about causes of criminal behaviors among children. Secondly, this research is aimed at understanding if child abuse is a real and primary cause of juvenile delinquency. Such knowledge is very significant to stakeholders involved in child upbringing. Finally, it aims at revealing how social environment is critical to child development and unusually aggressive behaviors among adolescents.Importance of the study Knowledge is power and knowledge as power can be used to find solutions to problems that are persistent in the society.

Therefore, this study shall be of great importance because it shall be used as a source of knowledge and it shall educate officials in the criminal justice systems on causes of crimes among children. With this experience, these professionals shall seek for other approaches apart from incarceration as a means to deal with criminal children. Parents, guardians and other stakeholders involved with child development also shall use this knowledge to help children grow in a proper environment to reduce the number of young criminals in the society.

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This study is also essential because it shall also help to prove that the theories that have been used by experts to explain why children engage in criminal behavior will be established to be plausible. Therefore, using this research and other studies done by other experts in this field, scholars can further build on their research having examined some of the areas that have not been covered within this topic.

Literature review

The United States Statistics on children have indicated that the level of child molestation has increased. National Children Alliance (2015) has put the figures at about three hundred thousand child abuse cases annually. Additionally, U.S. Department of Justice (2013) has indicated that there are cases where children die out of child abuse and the figure range of 1.8million children who have lost their lives due to maltreatment. National Children Alliance (2015) and U.S. Department of Justice (2013) have done their studies on child abuse even though they have not indicated any relationship with crimes among the children. Currie and Tekin (2012) on the other hand has suggested that another issue facing children is the rise of criminal tendencies and aggression. On this incident, National Children Alliance (2015) has indicated that the rate of crimes among the children has also increased.

U.S. Department of Justice (2013) explains that about 1.8 million children are being arrested annually due to criminal activities. In fact, this study goes on to indicate that there is a likelihood that in 2020, about 108 million children will be engaged in crimes every year. While National Children Alliance (2015), U.S. Department of Justice (2013) and National Children Alliance (2015) have done their studies and given the statistics on the rates of child abuse and crime among children, they have not tried to tie any relationship to the two. However, there is a trend that every scholar can a see is taking shape form these studies that, the rates of child abuse are increasing as the rates of crimes among the children are also increasing. This is where the need to determine the relationship emerges.

Another study conducted by Heyman and Slep (2002) has on its part revealed that there is a connection between social problems in the lives of children and the maltreatment that such children undergo. This study further indicates that more than half a million children are victims of abuse and sometimes also die. This corresponds to the research done by (National Children Alliance, 2015). This study then goes further to examine how child abuse can cause social problems such as aggression, bullying and even lack of self-esteem. In this study, Heyman and Slep have indicated that the when children are molested and mistreated during childhood, they can either bear the aggression and desire to express their anger on other individuals during their teenage and so that is what causes aggression during teenage. For instance, a male child that was abused by a female guardian or parent might have hatred for women and hence engage in aggressive behaviors such as rape.

Furthermore, Heyman and Slep (2002) clarifies that in some cases, the children are likely to register in their mind that such aggressive actions are normal and acceptable. Consequently, even though Minh et al., (2013) does not directly tie the child maltreatment to crimes the studies correlate with the theories that explain the reason for crime among the children. Furthermore, it is clear that aggressive tendencies are likely to lead to criminal tendencies like the example of rape that has been given. It is as such clear that child abuse has a secure connection to incidences of crime.

The ideas shared by Heyman and Slep (2002) are similar to the ideas proposed by Parrish (n.d.). In this case, the author, however, has concentrated on the Battered child syndrome and examined the way in which such psychological, medical situation can cause children to be aggressive or also engage in child abuse themselves. Pezeshki et al. (2015) in support of this approach has also indicated that there are many cases where the child abusers have been recorded to have a history of battered child syndrome. The abused child syndrome in this instances has been used in the study to examine how it impacts the behavior of the abuser. In this case, therefore, the author, Parrish (n.d.) has concentrated on the abuser as the subject. In this study again, the author has not directly indicated whether the individuals under investigation had been found to engage directly in other criminal behaviors apart from abuse. As such, the study does not explain why children would participate in burglary, murder or other crimes.

Even so, there is still a connection that the survey by Parrish (n.d.) and Pezeshki et al. (2015) have in common, is that they are all in agreement that the social problems that children go through can be a reason for their way of behavior during their teenage. Finally, Anderson and Dill (2000) for his part has focused a lot on juvenile crimes to be resulting from children’s exposure to abuse. In this case, the researcher does not look at child abuse as a directly inflicted pain on the child but considers that even the exposure of a child to aggressive and criminal tendencies can cause children to engage in crimes. This study is in line with the social theory of crimes Social Learning Theory. This theory explains that people learn to commit crimes by relating with those that commit crimes (Anderson & Dill, 2000). As such a child that is raised in a family where the parents and siblings committed crimes is likely to emulate such behaviors. In the same way, if a child is exposed to violent acts they are also expected to engage in the same. In other words, child abuse has a direct connection to cases of crimes.



The current research is focused on examining the role that child abuse and maltreatment play about crimes among people aged below 18. As such, the analysis shall look at child abuse as a reason for crimes among children making the hypothesis to be as follows: Child abuser causes juvenile crimes. Independent Variable In this study, there are two variables. The independent variable, in this case, is Child abuse or maltreatment. It is independent because in the survey it is seen as the underlying reason behind the resulting scenario. Dependent Variable The dependent variable, on the other hand, is the juvenile criminal behavior. A dependent variable is that variable that occurs as a result of being caused by the independent variable. Therefore, it is expected that child abuse is what causes crimes.

Research Design

The research hall consider a child or juvenile as anyone aged below 18 years During this study, child abuse shall be considered as any maltreatment or harmful behavior towards a child that is aimed at hurting them physically, emotionally and psychologically. This can also involve, and it will concentrate more on physical harm. To get such records, the researcher will rely on databases of agencies that deal with child abuse. Moreover, in some cases, the data shall be physically collected from these agencies’ offices. Juvenile crimes, on the other hand, shall be considered as any form of aggressive behavior that is intended to or that which causes harm to any persons. This can include bullying. However, the research shall focus more on crimes such as burglary, murder, and rape among other offenses.

Through interviews done in correctional facilities and other mental health centers, the researcher shall collect information on the childhood of the juveniles under study. In some cases, the researcher shall obtain the information form close relatives of the child criminals. All report shall be made confidential and kept and accessed by the researcher only. Using quantitative analysis, the data shall be examined to see, the number of instances when children who have engaged in criminal behaviors have at one time or the other been abused during childhood. With such data, a determination shall be made as to whether the number is sufficient enough to conclude that the hypothesis that Child abuser causes juvenile crimes is correct.

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