Understanding the Link Between Childhood Maltreatment and Violent Delinquency: What Do Schools Have to Add?

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Child maltreatment constitutes significant risk for adolescent delinquency. Although an ecological model has been proposed to explain this relationship, most studies focus on individual risk factors. Prospective data from 1,788 students attending 23 schools were used to examine the additive influence of childhood maltreatment, individual-level risk factors, and school-level variables assessed at the beginning of Grade 9 on delinquency 4 to 6 months later. Individual-level results indicated that being male, experiencing childhood maltreatment, and poor parental
nurturing were predictors of violent delinquency. School climate also played a significant role: Given the same individual risk profile, a student attending a school that was perceived by students as safe was less likely to engage in violent delinquency than was a student attending a school perceived to be unsafe. Moreover, the impact of childhood maltreatment on risk for engaging in violent delinquency was somewhat mitigated by schools' participation in a comprehensive violence prevention program.
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