CRG 3/15–16: Cross-over kids: Effective responses to children and young people in the youth justice and statutory child protection systems

Report to the Criminology Research Advisory Council

This study examines the extent to which children and young people before the Criminal Division of the Victorian Children’s Court were also clients of the statutory child protection system, and to better understand the characteristics of this group. It also explores the factors which contribute to the entry and entrenchment of these children in the criminal justice system. A mixed methods research design was adopted, involving stakeholder consultations and case file analysis of 300 children brought before the Criminal Division of Victoria’s Children’s Courts who also had current or historical Family Division matters indicating statutory child protection involvement.

Cross-over children were overwhelmingly impacted by cumulative harm across their lives, faced considerable co-occurring challenges affecting their engagement with statutory and non-statutory social systems, and were more likely to be among children convicted with earlier onset, more violent and more voluminous offending. These findings suggest several strategies may be necessary for prevention, diversion and responding to cross-over children’s criminal justice system involvement.