Violence in the Transition to Adulthood: Adolescent Victimization, Education, and Socioeconomic Attainment in Later Life


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There is increasing speculation about links between violent victimization in childhood and adolescence and socioeconomic disadvantage in later adulthood, yet little work, either theoretical or empirical, has examined this issue. This paper integrates research on social and psychological consequences of victimization with theory and research on socioeconomic attainment to propose a theoretical model that situates adolescent victimization in the socioeconomic life course. Examination of data from a national sample of American adolescents (ages 11–17 in 1976) indicates a chain-like sequence in which victimization diminishes educational self-efficacy, which subsequently undermines educational performance and attainment. Through diminished educational attainment, adolescent victimization has substantial and wide-ranging effects on socioeconomic attainment in early adulthood. Theoretical and policy implications of these findings are discussed.