Childhood Trauma Increases Risk Of Being Both Victim And Perpetrator Of Crime And Violence

Research shows that the more ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES an individual suffered in their early life, the greater their risk of becoming the victim of crime and / or the perpetrator of crime in early life.

ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES, as defined by the well known Adverse Childhood Experiences Study are listed below :

physical abuse

– emotional abuse

– sexual abuse

witnessing the mother being abused by the father

loss / abandonment / rejection by a parent (including due to separation and divorce)

– living with a parent suffering from a pathological addiction

– living with a clinically depressed mother

– living with a mother who suffers from another significant mental illness


The more of the above adverse childhood experiences a person has suffered, the higher their ACE Score. For example, a person who had suffered one of the above adverse childhood experiences would have an ACE score of 1, whereas an individual who had experienced four of them would have an ACE score of 4.


Some main examples of the research linking crime / violence to childhood trauma include the following :

  • ACE scores of 4 or over increase the risk of being the perpetrator of violence, the victim of violence and of being put in jail by 500 per cent, compared to an individual with an ACE score of zero. (Bellis et al.)
  • Females with ACE scores of 5 or more are 14% more likely to suffer domestic violence and 30% more likely to suffer sexual assault, compared to females with an ACE score of zero. (Whitfield et al.)
  • Ex-offenders with an ACE score of 5 or above are 11 times more likely to re-offend during their first year of probation and 15 times more likely to re-offend during their second year of probation, compared to individuals with an ACE score of zero (Anda, 2011).
  • Children involved in the juvenile justice system have, on average, approximately, an ACE score triple that of children who are not involved in the system (Baglivio et al.).
  • As a child’s ACE score increases, the risk of him perpetrating violence increases from between 35% and 144% (Duke et al.).

For more connected to this topic, you may wish to read my previously published articles :

Childhood Trauma Leading To Addiction And Crime

So-Called Psychopathic Traits In Adolescents Often Symptoms Of Intense Emotional Distress

Anti-Social Personality Disorder : A Psychodynamic Explanation.Anti-Social Personality Disorder : A Psychodynamic Explanation.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Psychologist, researcher and educationalist.

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