Does Child Abuse cause Crime?

Does Child Abuse cause Crime?

The National Fire Service were very concerned to discover, that a large proportion of those who commit arson in this country were the former victims of child abuse; so much so that they asked the organisation I helped found in 1998 - Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, for special training.

Many convicted paedophiles were abused in childhood, but there are no statistics to suggest that abuse in childhood leads to sex offending in later life.

These bland statistics, however, belie the subtlety of the subject as I will go on to illustrate.

People with previous criminal convictions are invariably precluded from making claims for Criminal Injuries Compensation on the grounds that active criminals who take from the system should not be allowed to profit from it. Daily Mail readers no doubt sympathise with this view. I get very angry, however, when the same rule is used to deny compensation to the victims of child abuse when it can be proved by psychological evidence that there is a link between the abuse and the subsequent life of crime.

Sex Offender Attacks

It is easy to see that the prisoner who commits a serious crime of violence against a child sex offender is motivated by anger and rage against this type of individual. Most prisoners detest child molesters per se. When he/she is a survivor of childhood sex abuse, then it is even easier to see that he/she is trying to hurt the type of person who hurt him/her so badly in childhood.

What about the victim of child abuse who hunts down his/her abuser in later life and either seriously maims him/her or commits murder. The law of the jungle would say that justice has been done. Our civilised judicial system, however, will give a life sentence even with mitigating circumstances. The number of child abuse clients of my firm who have at least contemplated such an act is quite high. The feelings are quite understandable.

Whilst we are usually dealing with abuse, which took place in institutions in quite extreme cases, national statistics tell us that 1 in 4 adults in this country are the victims of abuse in childhood, which includes, of course, bullying at home or school.

Why does it happen?

So how does abuse make survivors feel? Angry, depressed, unloved, abandoned, betrayed, neglected, undeserving of attention to name a few of the typical feelings. So do these feelings lead to a life of crime?

Generally speaking the child does not realise how wrong the abuse is at the...

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