, Volume 36, Issue 3-4, pp 207-222

Understanding the Role of Neighborhood Context in the Long-Term Criminal Consequences of Child Maltreatment

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This study investigated how neighborhood conditions influence the relationship between early child maltreatment and criminal behavior, using official data from a sample of maltreated children (N = 908) and matched controls (N = 667), as well as census data about respondents' neighborhoods. Using multilevel data that incorporated information about individuals, families, and neighborhoods, 2 hypotheses (direct influence and interaction effect) were examined using hierarchical generalized linear modeling (HGLM). The results indicated that neighborhood disadvantage and stability moderated the relationship between early child maltreatment and offending. Specifically, the effect of early child maltreatment on later juvenile and adult criminal behavior was strongest for those individuals from the most disadvantaged and most stable neighborhoods. These results suggest that studying the interaction between family functioning and neighborhood conditions provides a more comprehensive understanding of offending than does studying each factor separately.