Victimization as a predictor of offending behavior in youth
Hartinger-Saunders, Robin M.
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Objective . This dissertation study explored the complex relationship between the victimization of youth and subsequent offending behavior. It examined whether type of victimization (direct or vicarious) influenced offending behavior differently. It explored whether the different types of victimization had separate or shared effects on the frequency and seriousness of subsequent offending. In addition, the study examined whether psychological distress and moral disengagement mediated the relationship between a youth's victimization experience and subsequent offending behavior. Method . An exploratory, secondary data analysis was conducted using data from the Buffalo Longitudinal Study of Young Men (BLSYM), which is a panel study of (n=625) young men, ages 16-19. Findings . Personal victimization significantly predicted total, violent & non-violent offending. Vicarious victimization through peers significantly predicted total, violent & non-violent offending and vicarious victimization through the neighborhood significantly predicted violent offending. In addition, personal victimization significantly predicted psychological distress and moral disengagement whereas; property victimization significantly predicted moral disengagement. Psychological distress and moral disengagement significantly predicted total offending. Although psychological distress did not appear to mediate the relationship between total victimization and total offending, moral disengagement did. In addition moral disengagement was a mediator between total victimization and violent as well as non-violent offending. Study limitations and implications for social work practice are discussed.