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Youth Trauma Experiences and the Path From Child Welfare to Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2018
121 pages
This study examined how high rates of trauma experienced by children and youth contribute to youth being involved in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system, based on the study of a cohort of foster-care youth in the Chicago area.
Using an observational longitudinal cohort study design, this study identified a cohort of youth who had been involved in the child welfare system at some point in their lives. Information collected for this cohort featured all child welfare system events and their demographic characteristics. The youth were monitored over time to determine whether and when they had juvenile justice system contact, including arrest, detention, court involvement, probation sentence, or juvenile corrections. Survival analysis was used to assess the characteristics and timing associated with these outcomes. The analyses considered the characteristics of the individuals and how they influenced the outcome of interest. The findings suggest the cumulative trauma exposure as measured in this study did not significantly increase understanding of the likelihood for juvenile justice contact when the analysis included observed youth characteristics, child welfare history, and risks and strengths. Some types of involvement with the juvenile justice system were more likely among children exposed to violence in the community and at school; however. exposure to family violence was associated with a decreased risk of experiencing detention, court, and probation. The study also examined differences between young men and young women regarding trauma exposure and involvement in the welfare and justice systems. 10 figures, 6 tables, 71 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: December 1, 2018