The cycle of violence in context: Exploring the moderating roles of neighborhood disadvantage and cultural norms

Emily M. Wright, Abigail A. Fagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the cycle of violence theory has received empirical support (Widom, 1989a, 1989b), in reality, not all victims of child physical abuse become involved in violence. Therefore, little is known regarding factors that may moderate the relationship between abuse and subsequent violence, particularly contextual circumstances. The current investigation used longitudinal data from 1,372 youth living in 79 neighborhoods who participated in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), and it employed a multivariate, multilevel Rasch model to explore the degree to which neighborhood disadvantage and cultural norms attenuate or strengthen the abuse-violence relationship. The results indicate that the effect of child physical abuse on violence was weaker in more disadvantaged communities. Neighborhood cultural norms regarding tolerance for youth delinquency and fighting among family and friends did not moderate the child abuse-violence relationship, but each had a direct effect on violence, such that residence in neighborhoods more tolerant of delinquency and fighting increased the propensity for violence. These results suggest that the cycle of violence may be contextualized by neighborhood structural and cultural conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-249
Number of pages33
JournalCriminology
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

Keywords

  • Child abuse
  • Culture
  • Disadvantage
  • Family violence
  • Neighborhoods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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