Victimization is a negative life experience that tends to occur in the context of one’s own offending. Although a great deal of literature shows that victimization often leads to increases in criminal behavior, there are also reasons to believe that, for some offenders, victimization can serve as a turning point that marks the end of criminal careers. The problem, however, is that little is known about why some victims desist from crime and others do not. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to identify the processes that lead to changes in crime over time among victimized offenders.
A subset of data from the Pathways to Desistance Study is used, which is a multi-site, 7-year longitudinal study of serious juvenile offenders. Multilevel models are estimated to determine the behavioral, cognitive, and social sources of changes in crime among 190 victimized male offenders (N = 1540 person-waves).
The results suggest that victimized offenders who reduce their affiliations to deviant peers (i.e., peers who hold attitudes favorable to crime) engage in less crime over time. These changes to peer affiliations are preceded by victims’ reductions in binge drinking and transitions into fatherhood.
There is variability in offending among victims of crime that is not often explored. Future work would benefit from focusing not only on whether victimization increases offending, but for whom.
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Violent victimization reflects whether each respondent was a victim of the following violent acts during the past 6 months at wave 1: “you were shot,” “you were shot at,” “you were attacked with a weapon, such as a knife or bat,” “you were chased when you thought that you could get really hurt,” “you were hit, slapped, punched, or beaten up,” and “you were sexually assaulted, molested, or raped.”
A total of 196 male respondents reported violent victimization at wave 1. Three of these respondents never completed a follow-up interview in the community, and thus were excluded from the study sample. Three additional respondents were missing information on key baseline variables (including measures of intelligence, parents’ education, early onset behaviors, and neighborhood conditions) and were therefore removed from the sample as well.
Prior to conducting the multivariate analyses, model diagnostics were examined to ensure that multicollinearity was not a problem. Bivariate correlations between the independent variables did not exceed an absolute value of .55 (below the recommended threshold of .70), and variance inflation factors were not higher than 2.40 (below the conservative value of 5 suggested by :66).
Supplemental analyses were also conducted that used a contemporaneous measure of offending. Results showed that within-individual changes in deviant peer affiliations (b = .327, SE = .034, z = 9.57), drug use (b = .339, SE = .035, z = 9.79), binge drinking (b = .053, SE = .013, z = 4.04), temperance (b = − .285, SE = .052, z = − 5.46), employment (b = − .201, SE = .072, z = − 2.80), being in a romantic relationship (b = .185, SE = .057, z = 3.27), and repeat victimization (b = .178, SE = .028, z = 6.42) were related to contemporaneous changes in offending.
A supplemental model was also estimated using a contemporaneous indicator of deviant peer affiliations. The findings revealed that within-individual changes in drug use (b = .209, SE = .028, z = 7.59), binge drinking (b = .060, SE = .010, z = 5.74), temperance (b = − .165, SE = .033, z = − 4.96), psychosocial maturity (b = − .157, SE = .055, z = − 2.85), and repeat victimization (b = .127, SE = .022, z = 5.70) were linked to contemporaneous changes in deviant peer affiliations.
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I wish to thank Travis Pratt for his helpful feedback, as well as Chris Sullivan who provided thoughtful comments on an earlier version presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Washington, DC.
The Pathways to Desistance Study was supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2000-MU–MU-0007), the National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-0053), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01 DA019697-01), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Center for Disease Control, The William Penn Foundation, The Arizona Governor’s Justice Commission, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. No direct funding from these agencies was received for this analysis. The content of this paper is the sole responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies.
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Turanovic, J.J. Victimization and Desistance from Crime. J Dev Life Course Criminology 5, 86–106 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-018-0100-2