Young people are exposed to violence regularly in their homes, schools, and communities. Such exposure can cause them significant physical, mental, and emotional harm, with long-term effects lasting well into adulthood. Of particular concern is violence within the family, where children are victimized by their parents. Research shows that direct and indirect childhood exposure to violence and maltreatment within the family increases the risk of subsequent violent delinquent behavior. Social learning theory and attachment theory place parenting at the center of the “cycle of violence,” and “intergenerational transmission of violence” claims that experiencing violence in childhood will lead to the perpetration of violence in adolescence. Although much research has been done, these assertions have never been tested on a large international sample of young people. The current article fills this void by analyzing surveys completed by 57,892 students who were 12 to 16 years old from 25 countries as part of the International Self-Report Delinquency Study (ISRD3). Structural equation modeling (SEM) is used to test the direct and indirect effects of child maltreatment and interparental violence on self-reported violent delinquency. Mediating effects are proposed for attachment to parents, parental social control (measured by parental knowledge, parental monitoring, and child disclosure), and parental moral authority. Analysis suggests direct effects of child maltreatment and interparental violence, as well as mediating effects of parental monitoring, parental knowledge, and parental moral authority. Child disclosure and attachment to parents do not affect violent juvenile offending. Being a victim of both child maltreatment and interparental violence is found to exacerbate the effect on violent offending. The results support the crossnational generalizability of the “cycle of violence” argument that children tend to reproduce the behavior of their parents.

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Keywords child maltreatment, interparental violence, juvenile delinquency, cycle of violence, physical abuse
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Journal Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Steketee, M.J., Marshall, I., & Aussems, C. (2019). Exploring the impact of child maltreatment and interparental violence on violent delinquency in an international sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24. doi:10.1177/088626051882391