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Res Soc Work Pract. 2010 May 1;20(3):253-259.

Child Maltreatment and Delinquency Onset Among African American Adolescent Males.

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University of Denver, Denver, Colorado.


Child welfare and criminology research have increasingly sought to better understand factors that increase the likelihood that abused and neglected children will become involved in the juvenile justice system. However, few studies have addressed this relationship among African American male adolescents. The current study examines the relationship between child maltreatment (i.e., neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other/mixed abuse) and the likelihood of a delinquency petition using a sample of African American males (N = 2,335) born before 1990. Multivariable logistic regression models compared those with a delinquency-based juvenile justice petition to those without. Results indicate that African American males with a history of neglect, physical abuse, or other/mixed abuse were more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system than those without any child maltreatment. Additionally, multiple maltreatment reports, a prior history of mental health treatment, victimization, and having a parent who did not complete high school also increased the likelihood of a delinquency petition. Implications for intervention and prevention are discussed.


African Americans; adolescents; child welfare; criminal justice; inferential statistics; poverty

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