Families, Delinquency and Crime

1. Define and explain the “cycle of violence” hypothesis as it relates to the intergenerational transmission of mistreating children. The cycle of violence (sometimes called the intergenerational transmission of violence) posits that victimized children grow up to victimize others (Widom, 1989). Although the cycle of violence hypothesis is widely accepted in popular and treatment circles, Belsky (1993, p. 415) has noted that “there are few in the scientific community who would embrace such remarks.

Despite the abundance of evidence and reports linking the perpetration of child abuse and neglect with a childhood history of victimization…. most scholars are all too aware of the inherent limitations of the available database. ” Although the database has expanded, Kaufman and Zigler’s (1993) critique remains true that most articles cited to support the cycle of violence either lack any data, are case studies, or are studies of abusive parents without comparisons to a control group. Further, what exactly is meant by the cycle of violence?

As noted by Heyman and Ezzell (in press), different researchers use the term to mean different things, leaving at least 10 relations sharing the same moniker: (a) child victimization and/ or exposure to interparental violence lead to violent criminal behavior in adolescence and/or adulthood (Widom & Maxfield, 2001); child maltreatment victimization leads to (b) child maltreatment perpetration in adulthood, (c) partner abuse perpetration in adulthood, or (d) partner abuse victimization in adulthood; child exposure to interparental violence leads to (e) child maltreatment perpetration in adulthood, (f) partner abuse perpetration in adulthood, or (g) partner abuse victimization in adulthood; and child victimization and exposure to interparental violence lead to (h) child maltreatment perpetration in adulthood, (i) partner abuse perpetration in adulthood, (j) partner abuse victimization in adulthood. Despite substantial methodological problems (Widom, 1989), there is weak but consistent support for the first seven hypotheses (Heyman & Ezzell, in press). Moreover, the final three hypotheses lack any published empirical test. 3. According to Patterson’s Coercion Model, explain the factors that lead to the inception

and evolution of delinquency and crime. Include comments regarding the link between family functioning and involvement with a deviant peer group. Patterson’s coercion model include the family processes associated with the development of antisocial and depressive behavior as factors that lead to the inception and evolution of delinquency and crime. Consistent with the model, involvement in family coercion during childhood and adolescence increased both boys’ and girls’ risk for antisocial behavior in adolescence and girls’ risk for depressive behavior. Coercive family processes served as a link between older and younger siblings’ antisocial behavior.

Childhood exposure to maternal depression predicted boys’ and girls’ depressive behavior 10 years later, but this association was not mediated by coercion. The data suggest that family risk factors and processes for antisocial development are similar for boys and girls but pathways to depression may be gender specific. Depression and antisocial behavior share similar family environmental antecedents, such as frequent exposure to aversive social exchange and maternal depression (Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992). However, antisocial behavior and depression differ in developmental onset, temporal course, and gender-related prevalence (Hartung & Widiger, 1998). Research indicates considerable aggregation among family members for both depressive and antisocial behavior.