Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 279–290

The Relationship Between Adolescent Physical Abuse and Criminal Offending: Support for an Enduring and Generalized Cycle of Violence


DOI: 10.1007/s10896-005-6604-7

Cite this article as:
Fagan, A.A. J Fam Viol (2005) 20: 279. doi:10.1007/s10896-005-6604-7


Prospective investigations have demonstrated support for the cycle of violence theory. However, few studies have examined whether or not abuse occurring during adolescence increases the prevalence and frequency of criminal involvement, or explored the long-term consequences of such victimization. In addition, there has been little investigation of whether or not the effects of abuse vary depending on characteristics of the victim, such as sex, race/ethnicity, age, family structure or income. Using data from the National Youth Survey, this study demonstrates that adolescent physical abuse has immediate and enduring effects on the prevalence and frequency of a variety of self-reported offenses, including violent and non-violent crimes, drug use and intimate partner violence. Furthermore, the study reveals that while victimization increases the prevalence of offending for victims of varying backgrounds, the frequency of offending is moderated by family income, area of residence, and family structure. Implications for prevention are discussed.


cycle of violence victimization intimate partner violence drug use adolescence 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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