Abuse, Neglect, and Child Delinquents' Risk for Violent Offending

Trisha Beuhring, University of Minnesota
Jody McElroy, Ramsey Co. All Children Excel (ACE) Prg.
Chris Miller, Ramsey Co. All Excel Children (ACE) Prg.

ABSTRACT
Over a period of 2 years, 180 children under age 10 were referred to an early intervention program for committing a chargeable offense. A salient feature of these child delinquents was the extent of their involvement with Child Protection Services. An analysis of the prevalence of maltreatment indicated: (1) chronic neglect was far more common than either sexual or physical abuse; (2) neglect often occurred in isolation, but abuse seldom did; and (3) the joint occurrence of neglect and abuse was systematically related to the risk for violent offending, not neglect or abuse alone. Increasing severity of neglect was related to the likelihood of physical and sexual abuse, and the percent of child delinquents with a history of severe neglect increased dramatically as the risk for violent delinquency increased. There were no gender differences in these results. In sum, it was the joint occurrence of neglect and abuse, and the severity of neglect, that was related to child delinquent's risk for escalating into serious and violent juvenile delinquency. These findings have fundamental implications for intervention programs that target child delinquents, since chronic neglect is associated with causal risk factors for delinquency as well as with resistance to services that would reduce the risk.

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Updated 05/20/2006