28 May 2018

The child protection and juvenile justice nexus in Australia: A longitudinal examination of the relationship between maltreatment and offending

This study examines the overlap between child protection and youth justice involvement in South Australia, and determines how substantiated maltreatment and variations in these experiences (e.g., the type, timing and recurrence of maltreatment) relate to criminal convictions as a youth. The research found that although the majority of child protection involved young people do not go on to become convicted offenders, the odds of subsequent convictions are significantly greater both for those with child protection notifications and substantiated maltreatment and for those who had been placed in out-of-home care. Multivariate analyses revealed that the strongest predictors for receiving a conviction among maltreated youth were: male gender, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethnicity, experiences of physical and emotional abuse, a greater number of substantiations (recurrence), experiencing maltreatment that commenced in childhood and continued into adolescence, and placement in out-of-home care. The mechanisms through which maltreatment might be linked with criminal behaviour are also discussed.