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J Trop Pediatr. 2004 Oct;50(5):292-6.

Incidence of child and adolescent abuse among incarcerated females in the northeast of Brazil.

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  • 1Instituto Materno Infantil de Pernambuco, Brazil. falbo@imip.org.br


The intergenerational transmission of violence and the tendency for abused and neglected children to become abusers, delinquents, and violent offenders in their adult life is an important field to be understood. It is also important to understand these backgrounds to guide future preventative interventions. Through a cross-sectional study, the occurrence of abuse during childhood and adolescence of adult women incarcerated in a female state prison at Recife in northeast Brazil was investigated. Among 219 prisoners, 190 accepted to join the research; 149 were young women (23-27 years) with severe educational deficiency. Living in poor socioeconomical conditions with problematic and violent familiar relations, 116 (61 per cent) left home at the end of their adolescence and the same number reported having been abused (p < 0.000015). There was a statistical significance between the abuses suffered and witnessed by the subjects and the perpetration of abuse against children and adolescents by themselves (p < 0.0022 and p < 0.0000049). Parents were the most frequent perpetrators (37.4 per cent). Sexual activity and use of legal and illegal drugs occurred early in adolescence. The group also had a family history of violence. Based on the analysed data of this studied group, the authors assumed that the abuse suffered in childhood and adolescence of these women drove them to be abusers in adult life and could have been a predictive marker for their conduct disorders and subsequent criminal behavior.

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