, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 681-686
Date: 29 Jun 2012

Family Influences on Female Offenders’ Substance Use: The Role of Adverse Childhood Events among Incarcerated Women

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Abstract

Childhood maltreatment, witnessing violence, and growing up with absent, addicted, or mentally ill caregivers influence adult physical and psychological well-being and may play an important role in female offending. This study utilizes data from a study of 60 incarcerated women to examine a possible intervening variable in the victimization-crime relationship. We conduct qualitative analyses to examine family influences on substance use among female offenders. Findings indicate that substance use may arise from a need to cope with child victimization and adversity, and that factors such as poor parental supervision may contribute to girls’ substance use. After onset of drug use, many women may turn to further criminal activity to support their habits. Implications for research and intervention are addressed.

Melissa Bowles is in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; both Dana DeHart and Jennifer Reid Webb are with The Center for Child and Family Studies, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
This Project was supported by Grant No. #2000-WT-VX-0010 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.