The Link Between Child Abuse and Neglect and Delinquency: Examining the Mediating Role of Social Bonds


This article draws on previous research and social bonding theory to examine the child maltreatment–delinquency relationship. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), results show that child physical and sexual abuse and neglect are predictors of weakened social bonds and increased delinquency during later adolescence. For both females and males, strong social bonds significantly decrease delinquency. Among females, social bonds, especially the maternal bond and school attachment, mediate the effects of child sexual abuse and neglect on delinquency. The effects of abuse and neglect on delinquency among males remain robust and significant even when controlling for social bonds. Implications of the findings for theory and policy are discussed.

Publication Title

Victims and Offenders