University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Child Maltreatment, Violence, Offending, and Educational Outcomes: Review of the Literature

posted on 2023-05-25, 20:45 authored by Datta, D, Elaine StratfordElaine Stratford, Roberta JulianRoberta Julian, Rebecca ShelleyRebecca Shelley

Childhood maltreatment is a form of violence against children that is a reality for a notable minority of children in Australia—by some estimates, around eight per cent nationwide (Reeve & van Gool, 2013). It comprises at least five forms: emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exposure to/involvement in family violence. The consequences of childhood maltreatment often follow individuals’ lives, affect their social, economic, and physical chances (Braga et al., 2018), and may lead to multiple and complex experiences of disadvantage. Among those disadvantages are diminished educational outcomes, higher likelihood of victimization and exposure to violence, and greater levels of offending and incarceration (Allwood & Widom, 2013; Fuentes, 2014), and these may be intergenerationally transmitted (McDonnell & Valentino, 2016).

Known for its equalizing effects (Kyllonen, 2018), education has the potential to shortcircuit both these cycles of disadvantage and the incidence of childhood maltreatment. Yet, there appear to be limited numbers of reviews of the literature that consider aspects of this complex issue.

In that light, our overarching purpose in this work is to consider the literature that examines whether and how education helps short-circuit both individuals’ experiences of disadvantage and the potential intergenerational transmission of such circumstances, both of which seem to be exacerbated in the presence of childhood maltreatment. These issues are considered below in a systematic literature review and in an ensuing discussion that revisits the same literature and allied studies in relation to six questions.

1. Among individuals who have experienced child maltreatment what effects have those experiences had on educational outcomes, victimization, offending, and incarceration?

2. Is there evidence of potential cycles of disadvantage entailing poor educational outcomes, victimization, offending, and incarceration are perpetuated throughout the life-course of individuals who are maltreated as children?

3. What are the potential intergenerational impacts on such individuals’ own children with respect to childhood maltreatment, victimization, offending, and incarceration?

4. What part might education play in short-circuiting individual pathways that lead to poor educational outcomes, victimization, offending, and incarceration from child maltreatment?

5. What part might education play in short-circuiting potential intergenerational effects of child maltreatment on the children of adults maltreated in their childhood?

6. What insights can be gained from a spatial analyses of childhood maltreatment?


University of Tasmania


Publication title

Institute for the Study of Social Change

Commissioning body

University of Tasmania






College Office - College of Arts, Law and Education


University of Tasmania

Place of publication

Hobart, Tasmania

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager