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The Maltreatment-Offending Association: a systematic review of the methodological features of prospective and longitudinal studies
journal contributionposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by C G Malvaso, P Delfabbro, Andrew Day
Although the association between childhood maltreatment and the subsequent development of offending behavior is well documented, the association does not necessarily reflect a causal relationship. This paper provides a systematic review of prospective and longitudinal studies using official records of maltreatment to gain insights into the extent to which methodological variations are likely to influence the conclusions drawn about the likely relationship between maltreatment and offending. Sixty-two original studies met the inclusion criteria. These studies were assessed according to a set of seven methodological criteria: (1) inclusion of comparison groups, (2) the use of statistical controls, (3) valid outcome measures, (4) operationalization of maltreatment, (5) proper temporal order of associations, (6) data relating to unsubstantiated maltreatment, and (7) consideration of mediating and moderating factors. The strength of evidence in support of the maltreatment-offending association was influenced by a number of methodological factors. Despite the increasing sophistication of studies, there is a need to be mindful of how these factors are taken into account in future research in order to gain a deeper understanding of the adverse consequences of maltreatment and how this might influence outcomes and inform interventions.