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The Developmental Nature of the Victim-Offender Overlap.

  • Author(s): Beckley, Amber L
  • Caspi, Avshalom
  • Arseneault, Louise
  • Barnes, JC
  • Fisher, Helen L
  • Harrington, Honalee
  • Houts, Renate
  • Morgan, Nick
  • Odgers, Candice L
  • Wertz, Jasmin
  • Moffitt, Terrie E
  • et al.
Abstract

Purpose:It is well-established that victims and offenders are often the same people, a phenomenon known as the victim-offender overlap, but the developmental nature of this overlap remains uncertain. In this study, we drew from a developmental theoretical framework to test effects of genetics, individual characteristics, and routine-activity-based risks. Drawing from developmental literature, we additionally tested the effect of an accumulation of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Methods:Data came from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Study, a representative UK birth cohort of 2232 twins born in 1994-1995 and followed to age 18 (with 93% retention). Crime victimization and offending were assessed through self-reports at age 18 (but findings replicated using crime records). We used the classical twin study method to decompose variance in the victim-offender overlap into genetic and environmental components. We used logistic regression to test the effects of childhood risk factors. Results:In contrast to past twin studies, we found that environment (as well as genes) contributed to the victim-offender overlap. Our logistic regression results showed that childhood low self-control and childhood antisocial behavior nearly doubled the odds of becoming a victim-offender, compared to a victim-only or an offender-only. Each additional ACE increased the odds of becoming a victim-offender, compared to a victim-only or an offender-only, by approximately 12%, pointing to the importance of cumulative childhood adversity. Conclusions:This study showed that the victim-offender overlap is, at least partially, developmental in nature and predictable from personal childhood characteristics and an accumulation of many adverse childhood experiences.

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