Good grades and proper schooling may help in protecting victims of childhood abuse from indulging in criminal behaviour in adulthood, a study says.
The emotional and sexual abuse that some kids endure during their childhood can lead them to commit crimes later in life. But when they achieve good grades in childhood and complete their academics, the likelihood of indulging in criminal behaviour declines significantly.
"Child abuse is a risk factor for later antisocial behaviour," said Todd Herrenkohl, Professor at the University of Michigan in the US.
"Education and academic achievement can lessen the risk of crime for all youth, including those who have been abused (encountered stress and adversity)," Herrenkohl added.
However, for some children who are weak in academic performance and get suspended in grades seven to nine, the offending habits and antisocial behaviour tends to stay with them even later in life, the researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, noted that the primary prevention of child abuse is a critical first step to reduce antisocial behaviour at the transition from adolescence into adulthood.
Researchers followed 356 people from childhood (ages 18 months to 6 years), school-age (8 years), adolescent (18 years) and adulthood (36 years).
Parent-child interactions measured various types of abuse and neglect, and responses also factored educational experiences and criminal behaviour against others or property.
Parent reports and self-reports of the team showed criminal and antisocial behaviour among the childhood abuse victims.
"Strategies focused on helping school professionals become aware of the impacts of child abuse and neglect are critical to building supportive environments that promote resilience and lessen risk for antisocial behaviour," Herrenkohl said.