Type of childhood maltreatment and the risk of criminal recidivism in adult probationers: A cross-sectional study

Eun Young Kim, Jiung Park, Bongseog Kim

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11 Scopus citations


Background: Childhood maltreatment is strongly associated with delinquency and the repeated crime. Specific types of childhood maltreatment have been found to have differential effects on recidivism in juvenile offenders, but studies of adult probationers have not been performed. This study investigated the relationship between having a history of childhood maltreatment and mental-health problems and the independent contribution of specific types of maltreatment and mental-health problems to the criminal recidivism of adult probationers. Method: This study included 183 adult probationers (107 males and 76 females) with a mean age of 40.1 (SD = 11.8) years. Type of childhood maltreatment was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, which consists of five subscales (emotional neglect and abuse, physical neglect and abuse, and sexual abuse). Additionally, we used the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview to assess participants for the presence of psychiatric disorders and assessed levels of emotional dysregulation and resilience. Hierarchical logistic regression analysis was performed to determine whether the types of childhood maltreatment were independently associated with repeated crime, after adjusting for demographic factors and mental-health problems. Results: The overall prevalence of mental illness in the childhood maltreatment group was significantly higher than in the no childhood maltreatment group (56.1 % vs. 38.2 %, p = 0.017). The maltreated group had a higher rate of major depressive disorder, a higher level of emotional dysregulation, and a lower level of resilience than the group that was not maltreated. Recidivism was uniquely associated with physical neglect (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR], 2.862; 95 % Confidence Interval [95 % CI], 1.213-6.752) and the presence of at least one psychiatric disorder (AOR, 3.791; 95 % CI, 1.703-8.443). Conclusions: Childhood maltreatment deserves further attention in adult probationers because it is potentially associated with higher rates of psychiatric morbidity and recidivism. In particular, physical neglect during childhood plays a critical role in repeated crime, independent of mental-health problems for high-risk adults involved with the criminal justice system. Rigorous evaluations of the relevance of childhood maltreatment in the assessment and treatment of criminal offenders are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number294
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Aug 2016


  • Adult probationers
  • Criminal recidivism
  • Mental-health problem
  • Types of childhood maltreatment

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