Early Abuse Linked to Criminality
Lawyers Weekly Published This Article:
It's extremely difficult to put a figure on it, but many clinicians, lawyers and judges who work in this area accept that if childhood victimization were eradicated, the steady flow of accused in the criminal courts would thin out considerably.
Courts are asked to hear these things at the eleventh hour-when the harm has been done, and the sentence is about to be imposed. Courts often do understand and factor early life damage into a sentence, but that can only take an offender so far. Often the establishment of a causal nexus eludes the court and may require the assistance of an expert. As always, there is no substitute for primary prevention of abuse and neglect, early intervention through enhanced social and educational surveillance, thorough assessment and the availability of services.
Abuse and criminality or violence are so inextricably related that the battle cry of "let's get tough on crime" should be recast as "let's get tough on identifying abuse, preventing it, and intervening early," all of which, of course, require awareness, understanding and resources. This is the chant of those who subscribe to the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence-to get at the root cause.