Is Exposure to Violence a Persistent Risk Factor for Offending across the Life Course? Examining the Contemporaneous, Acute, Enduring, and Long-term Consequences of Exposure to Violence on Property Crime, Violent Offending, and Substance Use [2018]

To examine the contemporaneous (cross-sectional), acute (1 year), enduring (5–7 years), and long-term (12–13 years) effects of exposure to violence on offending behaviors.

We analyze four waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 7,706). Exposure to violence captures direct (interpersonal victimization and violent threats) and indirect (witnessing violence) experiences with violence. Outcome measures include property crime, violent offending, and substance use. A series of logistic regression models examine the acute, enduring, and long-term effects of exposure to violence on the offending outcomes at each study wave, controlling for exposure to violence, lagged dependent variables, and baseline covariates at all previous waves.

The effects of exposure to violence on violent offending persist over time, with effects attenuating over time. However, exposure to violence only has contemporaneous and acute effects on property crime and drug use.

Long-term effects of exposure to violence on violent offending are not an artifact of confounding with more recent experiences with violence. Both distal and proximate effects of exposure to violence should be addressed in order to adequately disrupt the overlap between exposure to violence and violent offending.

Chelsea Farrell, Gregory M. Zimmerman

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol 55, Issue 6, 2018