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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Childhood Maltreatment and Risk of Revictimisation , A.Smith

Childhood Maltreatment and Risk of Revictimisation

A. Smith

Research on victimization suggested that individuals who are smaller in size and younger are at most risk of experiencing victimization. In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime (1988) found that “certain children are targeted more frequently, including those labelled “bad kids”; those who are shy, lonely, and compliant kids and also emotionally disturbed or ‘needy’ adolescents” (p.81). In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime (1988) argued that youth with physical, emotional, or developmental disabilities were at greater risk of experiencing victimization. This is particularly important because those who experienced childhood maltreatment often develop many emotional and developmental difficulties later in life, such as depression, anxiety, and aggression, which can contribute to an increased vulnerability to victimization.

With regards to the effect of childhood maltreatment on later potential for (re)victimization, Hosser, Raddatz and Windzio (2007) found that those who experienced childhood maltreatment had double the risk for later victimization in adolescence. Furthermore, Heitmeyer and colleagues (1996; as cited in Hosser et al., 2007) also found higher rates of adolescent re-victimization amongst those who experienced childhood maltreatment. In addition to these results, more support for the relationship between early childhood maltreatment and later re-victimization comes from a study by Becker-Lausen, Sanders, and Chinsky (1995; as cited in Hosser et al., 2007) who also found that childhood abuse increased later re-victimization; but instead of twice the risk of being victimized, they found four times greater risk for later re-victimization. We found more support for the relationship between early childhood victimization and subsequent adolescent victimization in an analysis by Hosser et al. (2007). Specifically, they asserted a positive correlation between childhood victimization and later victimization in adolescents. Furthermore, their results indicated maltreated children “consisted of the highest amount of ‘frequent victimizations’ (33.5%). Those who were never corporally punished, 20.3% of them reported frequent victimization “the risk of victimization in adolescents was 2.33 times higher for children who experienced maltreatment as for persons who did not” (p. 323 – 325).

When looking at the relationship between behavioural characteristics and vulnerability to victimization, Hosser et al. (2007) reported the following;

Those who did not report any victimization or indicate levels of aggression had an 18.6% probability of being victimized in adolescence. Furthermore, those who did not experience childhood maltreatment, but indicated aggressive tendencies had a 49.6% probability of experiencing victimization. At most risk were those who experience childhood maltreatment and display aggressive behaviour; as this group had a 69.6% probability of experiencing later victimization.

Hosser et al. (2007) found a clear connection between those who experienced maltreatment or serious punishment as children and an increased risk for later victimization during adolescents and suggested this was partly because of the “trauma-induced offense cycle” termed by Greenwald (2002). The trauma-induced offence cycle can be compared with the cycle of violence hypothesis; it hypothesizes that previous abuse and trauma make an individual react to situations triggering trauma-related effects with a heightened sense of fear, aggression, sense of helplessness, and heightened risk of violent “reactions and re-victimization furthering sensitivity to trigger situations” (p.329). In general, the trauma-induced offense cycle intensifies fear and anxiety within an individual who previously experienced victimization and increases their chances of a violent outburst which increases the likelihood they will be re-victimized. In support of this hypothesis, Geenwald (2002; as cited in Hosser et al., 2007) provided results indicating that maltreated children who showed aggressive behaviour in childhood had a much higher probability of revictimization in adolescence than control children.

As we have discussed, there are various characteristics that can increase a person’s vulnerability to victimization, and these are further discussed by Meadows (2001) who distinguished various offender “types” that included the depressed, dull normals, and the lonesome (p. 14 – 16). In addition to the Office for Victims of Crime (1988), Meadows (2001) argued that not only was depression a potential behavioural outcome of childhood maltreatment, but it was also a predictor of later re-victimization. As explained by Hentig (as cited in Meadows, 2001), “depressed people are likely to become victims because of their apathetic state of mind. A depressed person is generally a submissive person, frequently weak in both mental and physical strength, gullible, and easily swayed” (p.14).

In addition to depression being a predictor of later victimization, it is suggested that being classified as dull normal and lonesome increases the risk of later re-victimization. The reason for this is that dull normals are assumed to have lower IQ levels, thus their intellectual status increases their vulnerability to later victimization. Those classified as lonesome were known to seek intimate relationships with others and desire companionship so desperately that they were most likely to succumb to victimization (Meadows, 2001; 15). Knowing these specific types of individuals who are at a heightened risk of later victimization can add to the importance of this study when looking at the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adolescent characteristics, such as aggression, defiance, and compliance. However, before we can begin to identify these individuals, we must first discuss the experiences of youth while they are incarcerated in order to gain a better understanding of our population and the potential impact incarceration can have to further or correct their cycle of violence.

*References available upon request. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence/Abuse, Helen Grimbleby

In the too difficult box No. 1: Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence/Abuse

There is little work in this field. However, HMP Cardiff commissioned Marian Liebmann and Lindy Wooton’s report of 2008 (updated 2010). This report summarises developments in the UK which make interesting reading it also highlights a need for better research and understanding;

“The government consultation paper Restorative justice: the Government’s strategy (Home Office 2003) asked a question on restorative justice and domestic violence:
·         What would be the benefits and disadvantages of developing more specific principles in particular areas – for example for sensitive offences such as hate crimes, sex crimes and domestic violence?

The responses showed that views were strongly polarised: ‘Domestic violence specialists were strongly against their use in any such cases, while proponents of restorative justice thought they could be beneficial in some cases.’ The arguments against the use of restorative justice centred round the risk of re-victimisation, the power imbalance and the seriousness of domestic violence. Those involved in restorative justice cited the right to choose, the use of highly skilled facilitators and a multi-agency approach. The government conclusion was that more evidence was required on what works for victims.
(Home Office 2004a)

Accordingly, the subsequent publication Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Practitioners, based on discussions with many restorative justice organisations, under Section B: Sensitive and complex cases, says: ‘The use of restorative processes in domestic violence cases is not agreed; the government’s forthcoming paper on domestic violence will address this issue.’ (Home Office 2004b). At the time of writing (August 2008), this paper was still awaited. Meanwhile the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill was passed in November 2004, providing new powers for courts to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence, closing some anomalous loopholes and giving victims statutory rights (Home Office 2004c). These are enshrined in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, launched in April 2006 (Home Office 2006). However, restorative justice is not included.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Childhood Maltreatment and Learned Helplessness

Childhood Maltreatment and Learned Helplessness

A. Smith

Some authors have argued that individuals who experienced childhood maltreatment may have internalized problems that would appear to make them more compliant to certain situations. Compliant characteristics could include instances when people are well behaved, they do as they are told, they are considered relatively quiet and generally keep to themselves. According to Dietrich (2002), individuals who have experienced maltreatment and withdrawal from associating with others could be at an increased risk of adult revictimization. Dietrich (2002) suggested that individuals displayed behavioural characteristics considered compliant because they felt they have no control over the situation and it was a form of learned helplessness.

In addition to this notion of learned helplessness, Shirk (as cited in Straus, 1988) argued that youth who experienced maltreatment tended to withdrawal from group settings and avoid social interactions. Shirk (1988) argued that abusive parents contributed to the “maladaptive interactions with peers because their children lack essential social experiences with others” (p.68). In support of this finding, Howes and Espinosa (as cited in Straus, 1988) examined the social interactions between groups of children who experienced abuse and those who did not and found that abused children were no different from non-abused children in well established social settings; however, they differed in newly formed settings. Their study also concluded that abused children were less competent in peer interaction, which increased levels of social withdrawal. Information regarding social interactions is important to consider when looking at the effects of abuse within the current study because it is important to identify those who are suffering from past abusive experience, but do not display the negative behavioural outcomes normally associated with such abuse. It is important to provide an intervention to those who have experienced previous childhood maltreatment, but have internalized the negative behaviours associated with the maltreatment and are now potentially suffering in silence.

*References available upon request.