Early Child Maltreatment, Runaway Youths, and Risk of Delinquency and Victimization in Adolescence: A Mediational Model
In this article, the authors examine whether running away from home mediates the link between child maltreatment and later delinquency and victimization in adolescence. Specifically, they tested the hypothesis that childhood physical and psychological abuse increase the risk of a child's running away from home by the time of adolescence. Running away from home is, in turn, hypothesized to increase the risk of delinquency and victimization. Childhood sexual abuse, modeled independently of physical and psychological abuse, is hypothesized to have a similar effect on the intervening factor of running away, as well as on adolescent delinquency and victimization. The sample of 416 adolescents was drawn from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, conducted in a two-county area of Pennsylvania. Findings show that physical and psychological abuse predict a child's running away from home. Running away predicts later delinquency and victimization and partially mediates the effect of earlier abuse. The authors conclude that both child abuse and running away from home represent critical targets for intervention and prevention of subsequent negative outcomes among youth. Modified Author Abstract.