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Exploring the Effects of Maltreatment and Child Welfare System Experiences on Juvenile Justice Involvement

NCJ Number
Date Published
49 pages

This study explores how maltreatment and child welfare experiences affect juvenile justice involvement.


This dissertation examines the effect of maltreatment and child welfare experiences on juvenile justice involvement. Using a broad sample of youth who have been involved with probation and the advanced causal inference method of targeted maximum likelihood estimation (TMLE) and control for key confounders, the author examines whether maltreatment and child welfare system involvement impact the risk of recidivism for justice-involved youth. The author also examines the impact of self-reported maltreatment separately from child welfare involvement indicators and conducts moderation analyses examining the combined impact of maltreatment and child welfare. Youth who are involved in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system have become a population of concern due to the perceived compounding adverse outcomes of dual-system involvement. While studies focused on crossover youth have grown in recent decades, there is still much that remains to be understood about the relationship between child maltreatment, child welfare involvement, and juvenile delinquency from a causal perspective. Literature in the field has often examined the relationship between  maltreatment/child welfare involvement and initial juvenile justice contact, but the impact of child welfare experiences on recidivism among youth who are already justice-involved has not been well explored. This study addresses these gaps in the research. 

Date Published: January 1, 2021