CRG 18/13-14: Who is responsible for child maltreatment?

This is the first large longitudinal study in Australia focused on the perpetrators of child maltreatment. The study explored maltreatment perpetration by a cohort of individuals born in 1983 and 1984. The data were administrative records regarding individuals’ (N=3,217) substantiated contacts with the Queensland child protection system as perpetrators from the age of 10 to 30 years. Results provide a life-course profile of maltreatment perpetrators and illustrate considerable perpetration heterogeneity with reference to age, gender, race, perpetrator-victim relationships and maltreatment characteristics. Meaningful proportions of individuals had multiple victims, and multiple contacts with the child protection system, indicating many opportunities for intervention. The heterogeneity of maltreatment pathways over time means that interventions could potentially be targeted based on the diverse characteristics of perpetrators and their maltreatment. Indigenous Australians were markedly overrepresented as maltreatment perpetrators, highlighting the need to ensure that interventions are appropriate, accessible and effective for Indigenous Australians. There is an ongoing need for additional longitudinal research using perpetrators as the unit of analysis.