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Aggress Violent Behav. 2011;16(1):63-73.

Early Health Risk Factors for Violence: Conceptualization, Review of the Evidence, and Implications.

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1
School of Nursing and School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 418 Curie Blvd., Room 426, Claire M. Fagin Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6096, tel: (215) 898-8293.

Abstract

Violence and aggression are public health problems that can benefit from ongoing research into risk reduction and prevention. Current developmental theories of violence and aggression emphasize biological and psychosocial factors, particularly during adolescence. However, there has been less focus on understanding the interactive, multiplicative effects of these processes. Furthermore, little attention has been given to the pre-, peri-, and postnatal periods, where prevention and intervention may yield effective results. Early health risk factors that influence negative behavioral outcomes include prenatal and postnatal nutrition, tobacco use during pregnancy, maternal depression, birth complications, traumatic brain injury, lead exposure, and child abuse. There is an ample literature to suggest that these early health risk factors may increase the likelihood of childhood externalizing behaviors, aggression, juvenile delinquency, adult criminal behavior, and/or violence. This paper proposes an early health risk factors framework for violence prediction, built on existing developmental theories of criminal behavior and supported by empirical findings. This framework addresses gaps in the adolescent psychopathology literature and presents a novel conceptualization of behavioral disturbance that emphasizes the pre-, peri-, and post-natal periods, when a child's development is critical and the opportunity for behavioral and environmental modification is high. Implications for such a framework on violence prevention programs are discussed.

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