Continuity and Pathways from Aggression in Childhood to Family Violence in Adulthood: A 30-year Longitudinal Study
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- Temcheff, C.E., Serbin, L.A., Martin-Storey, A. et al. J Fam Viol (2008) 23: 231. doi:10.1007/s10896-007-9147-2
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Literature suggests that early patterns of aggressive behavior in both girls and boys are predictive of later violent behavior, including violence that takes place within family contexts. Utilizing the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, a study of individuals recruited as children in the 1970s from inner-city schools in Montreal, this study examined different pathways whereby aggressive behavioral styles in childhood may place individuals at risk for continuing patterns of violence towards children and spouses. Childhood aggression directly predicted self-reported violence towards spouse for both sexes, with indirect routes through lowered educational attainment and marital separation. Aggression in childhood was also found to predict parents’ self-reports of using violence with their children. For mothers, educational attainment and current absence of the biological father from the child’s home also played important roles in predicting violent behavior towards offspring. These findings provide evidence of both continuity of aggressive behavior and indirect risk paths to family violence, via lower educational attainment and parental absence. In both men and women, childhood aggression may be an identifiable precursor of family violence and child abuse.