Does child abuse cause crime?

By Peter Garsden, from insidetime issue June 2009

Solicitor Peter Garsden examines the theory that an abusive childhood leads to offending behaviour.

 Does child abuse cause crime?

The National Fire Service were concerned to discover that a large proportion of those who commit arson in this country were the former victims of child abuse, while a survey of prisoners in Liverpool found that 80% of males and 90% of females were similarly abused in childhood.

So why does it happen and how does abuse make survivors feel? Angry; depressed; unloved; abandoned; betrayed; neglected and undeserving of attention to name just a few of the typical feelings; so do these feelings lead to a life of crime?

Although the abuse survivor does not always realise the abuse is wrong, the internal confusion can lead to chaos. Inner anger turns to outer frustration. Once aged 17/18, drink and drugs are used to numb the hurt feelings, nightmares and daytime flashbacks. Acquisitive crimes to pay for the chemicals are inevitable if the survivor is unable to find employment.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) argues that the further away from the abuse the crimes are committed the less likely there is to be a connection. To me, crime can start for reasons connected with the pubescent abuse and becomes a way of life; thus there is a link.

In later life, the inner anger most child abuse survivors feel towards their abuser can surface when triggered, and result in a crime of violence. The victim can be anyone who challenges the survivor and attempts to render them powerless, because the experience is a repetition of the powerless feelings experienced when abused.

Dismissal from employment is not a crime per se, but arguments with bosses are commonplace for a victim of abuse. Once again, a representative of authority is in a position of power. If the decision affecting the victim appears to be unfair, then this triggers feelings of powerlessness and a violent argument may result. In a good case the outcome is dismissal, and in a bad case assault.

The limited surveys mentioned above would appear to illustrate that many residents of our custodial institutions are the victims of abuse in childhood, and that lack of care in infancy is responsible for the anti-establishment attitude which is so common. Some prisons have help programmes to assist disclosure; yet how many others are there who, quite understandably, keep their past a secret?

Peter Garsden is the senior partner of a firm of solicitors Abney Garsden McDonald, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire. Email Website who have the only dedicated child abuse compensation department in the country. Peter has extensive media experience and also lectures on the subject of child abuse for ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers) and other organisations.

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Comments about this article

3/1/2012 roger harrington -

Child abuse is something the Governments of today love. Since they have made a business out of dressing teens as adults rubber suits. And who ever have sex with one of these teens or who ever they have tricked into have sex with them gets a surgically implanted cap into there heads. What they have basically done is made a business out of have sex with children. And they have also seen child sex as a way of the future to feel good about themselves in a psychological way to advance technology. Child sex seems a way of the future for todays governments i'm afraid. A new psychological way to the future. This is disgusting what they are doing to these youngsters. In some third world countries they have made them dress as old frail people to dwindle money out of the pension system millions and millions and being dwindled out of pension systems the world over and its all going into Americas and europeans pockets

3/10/2012 K-Dog

You guys spelled "realize wrong in the first sentence of the third paragraph. It says; "Although the abuse survivor does not always realise the abuse is wrong..." It should say; "Although the abuse survivor does not always realize the abuse is wrong..." Just thought that a site that has this much data should know how to spell a work that a kid in high school could figure out.

Moderator's comment:
This is England, UK, and we spell it realise; we leave it to you guys in Orem, Utah, USA to spell it wrong.

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This article appears under the following categories...
Child Abuse

Summary of headlines for June 2009
Rape: lowering the standard of proof
In pursuit of re-education
Awash with Gods; slaves to Christianity
The power to suppress
Sex offenders and their place within the prison estate
Prison officer recruitment and training
Pensions unlocked
Is your budgie a psychopath - part 2
Are You Still Listening?
Victims and justice
A toothless bulldog
Adjudications and IEP: which is the fairest of them all?
New website for miscarriage of justice cases
Month by Month
Restorative Justice
Innocence a handicap to progression
Legitimate expense or exploitation?
Setting the record straight
Bob Woffinden writes:
The long walk to freedom
Email a Prisoner
The application of judicial review to prison law issues
Confiscation Orders Quashed
Conspiracy to Murder: To Plan a Death
Current page: Does child abuse cause crime?

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