Child maltreatment is a serious public health concern affecting millions of children each year in the United States and abroad. Several major prospective longitudinal studies have followed abused and neglected children from childhood into adolescence or adulthood and have found that these children are at increased risk of delinquency, crime, and violence. Many theories have been offered to explain how these childhood maltreatment experiences lead to the development of criminal behavior and, in particular, violent criminal behavior. One of the common assumptions is based on notion of a cycle of violence, whereby experiencing violence in childhood is thought to lead to the perpetration of violence in adolescence and adulthood. This entry reviews social learning, strain, attachment, social information processing theories, as well as maladaptive ...

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