Childhood Maltreatment and the Risk for Criminal Justice Involvement and Victimization Among Homeless Individuals: A Systematic Review

Childhood Maltreatment and the Risk for Criminal Justice Involvement and Victimization Among Homeless Individuals: A Systematic Review

Homeless individuals are at higher risk of criminal justice involvement (CJI) and victimization compared to their housed counterparts. Exposure to childhood maltreatment (CM; e.g., abuse, neglect) is one of the most significant predictors of CJI and victimization among homeless populations. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize current knowledge regarding the relationship between CM and CJI and victimization among homeless individuals. Guided by the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) methods, a systematic search was performed using PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature for published studies investigating the relationship between CM and CJI and victimization among homeless samples. We identified 20 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Findings showed that across the majority of studies, CM, and in particular childhood physical (CPA) and sexual (CSA) abuse, is associated with increased risk of both CJI and victimization, regardless of various important factors (e.g., sociodemographic characteristics, psychiatric disorders, substance use). These findings support the need for prevention and treatment for “families at risk” (i.e., for intimate partner violence, child abuse and neglect) and also document the need for trauma-informed approaches within services for homeless individuals. Future research should focus on prospective designs that examine victimization and CJI in the same samples.

JOURNAL: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017