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Attitudes toward legal actors among dual system youth

NCJ Number
Journal of Social Issues Volume: 77 Issue: 2 Dated: 2021 Pages: 504-527
C. Cavanagh; et al
Date Published
24 pages

In examining whether a juvenile's contact with the child welfare system (CWS) compared to—and in addition to—juvenile justice system contact is associated with Latinx youths' attitudes toward police and judges, the current study addressed this issue among a sample of 417 Latinx youth who had been arrested for the first time, 74 of whom were dual-system (DS) youth, i.e., involved with both juvenile justice and CW systems.


Results indicated that DS youth perceived police as less biased, and both police and judges as more legitimate, than their juvenile justice system-only counterparts. CWS contact was not associated with perceptions of situational procedural justice for police or judges, suggesting that CWS contact colors general attitudes toward legal actors’ bias and legitimacy, but not specific interactions with legal actors. The results suggest that CWS contact, above and beyond juvenile justice system contact, has a nuanced impact on children's legal socialization. (publisher abstract modified)