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Parental Neglect Linked to Violent Behavior in Male Adolescents

Aug 20, 2014 07:35 AM EDT
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Parental neglect in childhood can lead to boys growing up to become violent teenagers.

Neglect by family can lead to several physical and mental problems. A new study by Penn State sociologists suggests that neglected boys grow up to be violent adolescents.

William McGuigan, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Shenango said that parental neglect strongly predicts boys' behavior in teen years.

Some examples of physical neglect include not taking children to the doctor, not feeding a child etc.

"One of the problems with studying neglect is that it is an act of omission, rather than one of commission. In other words, it is characterized as the absence of an act, rather than an actual act of mistreatment," said McGuigan in a news release. "However, now we have better measures and larger databases to document neglect."

The study was presented at the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.

The study was based on data from 85 subjects from a Pennsylvania detention center. In the study, 25 of the participants or 29.4 percent of the group said that they had experienced at least one episode of childhood neglect.

What's interesting about the research is that it found physical abuse to be a slightly less stronger predictor of violent behavior in teen boys than physical neglect.

"It sounds somewhat contrarian, but the physical abuse might at least show that parents are paying some type of attention to the child," said McGuigan,

The study also included Roxanne Atterholt, instructor, and Jack A. Luchette, an undergraduate student, both from Penn State Shenango.

McGuigan said that two participants in the study reported that they were sexually abused as children. The data was not enough to provide a link between sexual abuse and delinquency in teenage years. 

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