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Pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending

Abstract

This is a report on a project partially funded by the Criminology Research Council. The original title of the research project, in the name of Dr Anna Stewart and Dr Susan Dennison, was 'Pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending'. The project aimed to examine in detail the risk factor of child maltreatment and the effect maltreatment has on engagement in juvenile offending. All children born in 1983 who had contact with either the Queensland child protection system or the juvenile justice system, as recorded by the Queensland Department of Families, were included in the study. There were 4,655 children who came into contact with the child protection system. The majority of these children (62%) were the victims of multiple incidents of maltreatment (30% of substantiated notifications). Children with substantiated maltreatment were more likely (17%) to come to the attention of the department for juvenile offending than children with notifications that were not substantiated (10%). Of children who offended, 18% had been the victim of child maltreatment. Maltreated children who offended were more likely than maltreated children who did not offend to be male, Indigenous, to be older at the final maltreatment episode (but not younger at the first), neglected or physically abused, have more notifications and be more likely to be placed outside the home because of maltreatment. Although not all children who are maltreated offend, these results indicate that the frequency, severity and type of maltreatment increases the risk of children offending. The results have important implications for the prevention of juvenile offending.

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