Method: Data for this study come from one state's administrative public sector records of child welfare, juvenile court, mental health, income maintenance, birth and 1990 U.S. Census tract information. The study employs a prospective longitudinal design that follows a sample of children born between 1982-1994 through 2009. Data for this analysis are limited to children born before 1991 (N=5,372) from two groups: (1) maltreated and poor (n=3,149) and (2) non-maltreated and poor (n=2,223). The groups were matched on geographic residence and child's age. IPV, the dependent variable, was measured by a temporary restraining order petition for domestic violence issued by civil and criminal courts. The independent/control variables included child maltreatment reports, juvenile delinquency (JD) petitions (non-violent, violent, status offense), mental health service use, disability, and demographics. To help deal with the rare event outcome which limits the number of covariates allowed, a propensity score method was used to control for family of origin and neighborhood characteristics between the two groups. Logistic regression was used to answer the research questions.
Results: A relatively small percentage (2.5%) of young adults (n = 132) perpetrated IPV as indicated by a temporary restraining order. Both models fit well with adequate predictive power. Child maltreatment was significantly associated with IPV (OR=1.78, p<.01) while controlling for other variables in the model. As compared to non-maltreated young adults, those with maltreatment histories were 78% more likely to commit IPV. Gender was a significant predictor (OR=3.02, p<.001) with males three times more likely than females to perpetrate IPV. Those that received mental health services prior to age 18 were 47% more likely to perpetrate than those who did not receive services (OR=1.47, p<.05). Non-violent JD was a significant predictor (OR=1.74, p<.05), associated with a 74% increased probability to perpetrate while violent JD increased the risk by two folds (OR=2.06, p<.01). High use of mental health services was associated with a 74% increase in IPV (OR=1.74, p<.01), whereas additional JD offenses doubled the risk for IPV (OR=2.03, p<.01).
Discussion and Implications: The study results suggest that young adults with child maltreatment victimization histories are at increased risk for committing IPV in young adulthood. Males, those with mental health or JD histories during childhood/adolescence are at particularly high risk. The results support theories of intergenerational transmission of violence and highlight the importance of early prevention.