The relationship between adverse childhood experiences and self-sufficiency problems in early adulthood among violent offenders

Menno Segeren, Thijs Fassaert, Matty de Wit, Christel Grimbergen, Arne Popma

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Background: Although adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are related to many single negative outcomes, its relation with multiproblem situations in early adulthood is largely unknown. Objective: To examine ACE's relation with self-sufficiency problems (SSP) in important life-domains among a sample of young adult violent offenders. Participants and setting: Participants were drafted from a local diversion program for violent repeat offenders. Young adults who agreed to a social-psychiatric screening and who had a history of juvenile probation were eligible to participate. Methods: The screening included the assessment of SSP (N = 523). ACE prevalences were retrieved from historic juvenile probation files (N = 122). The ACE-SSP relation was assessed with multivariable regression analyses with ACE and SSP as cumulative measures. Results: Offenders presented with 6.1 SSPs from 10 life-domains on average and had been exposed to 3.1 ACEs. Exposure to 4+ ACEs was observed for 42 % of the sample. ACE was positively associated with SSP (β =.38, p <.01) and with impaired functioning in the distinct domains finances (OR = 1.53, p <.05), addiction (OR = 1.33, p <.05), community participation (OR = 1.28, p <.05) and housing (OR = 1.22, p <.05). Conclusions: Both ACE and SSP are common among violent offenders. Higher diversity in ACE was associated with higher diversity in SSP. Juvenile probation for high-risk juveniles should focus on preventing functioning problems in multiple life-domains. Diversion efforts for young adult offenders require sensitivity to personal histories and vigilance about multi-problem situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104354
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Self-sufficiency problems
  • Violent offenders
  • Young adults

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