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Child Abuse Negl. 2017 Jan;63:7-18. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.11.013. Epub 2016 Nov 22.

Maltreatment, family environment, and social risk factors: Determinants of the child welfare to juvenile justice transition among maltreated children and adolescents.

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Westat, United States. Electronic address:
Case Western Reserve University, United States.
Yale University School of Medicine, United States.
Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families, United States.


This study prospectively examines the transition from the child welfare system into the juvenile justice system among 10,850 maltreated children and adolescents and explores how patterns of risks, including severity and chronicity of maltreatment, adverse family environment, and social risk factors, affect service systems transition. Almost three percent of maltreated children and adolescents had their first juvenile justice adjudication within an average of approximately six years of their initial child protective services investigation (CPS). Social risk factors, including a child's age at index CPS investigation (older), gender (boys), and race/ethnicity (Black and Hispanic) significantly predicted the risk of transition into the juvenile justice system. Recurrence of maltreatment and experiencing at least one incident of neglect over the course of the study period also increased the risk of transition into the juvenile justice system. However, subtypes of maltreatment, including physical, sexual, and other types of abuse did not significantly predict the risk of juvenile justice system transition. Finally, family environment characterized by poverty also significantly increased the risk of juvenile justice system transition. These findings have important implications for developing and tailoring services for maltreated children, particularly those at-risk for transitioning into the juvenile justice system.


Child welfare; Crossover youth; Delinquency; Family environment; Juvenile justice; Maltreatment

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