Pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending

Criminology Research Council grant ; (29/00-01)

All children born in 1983 who had contact with either the Queensland child protection system or the juvenile justice system were included in this study. At the time of data collection these children had turned 17 and were no longer considered children. The Department of Families databases contain a unique identifier enabling children to be tracked over time and across the two systems. 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 per cent 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 maltreated 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. These results have important implications for the prevention of juvenile offending.