Abused children/offending link
6 January 2003
New research published today by the Australian Institute of Criminologydemonstrates a direct path from child maltreatment to juvenile offending.
A major study focussing on 41,700 children born in Queensland in 1983 found thatby the time they were seventeen, 10 per cent of these children had been thesubject of a child protection matter with the Department of Families.Twenty-five per cent of the male children and 11 per cent of female children whohad been maltreated subsequently offended. Five per cent had appeared in courtfor a proven offence.
Releasing the study, the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology DrAdam Graycar said that "the maltreatment of children is a "scourge on oursociety - a thoroughly inexcusable practice that, unfortunately, our protectiveand preventive measures have had little overall success in combating".
Dr Graycar noted that not all abused and neglected children proceed to lateroffending and he said that it is important to identify the predictive factorsassociated with maltreatment.
Twenty-three per cent of children who were victims of physical abusesubsequently offended, compared with 15 per cent of maltreated children werewere not physically abused.
Indigenous children were more likely than non-Indigenous children to haveexperienced maltreatment, and this occurred over a longer period of time. Maltreated Indigenous children were four times more likely to offend thannon-Indigenous children.
The authors of the paper, Dr Anna Stewart, Dr Susan Dennison and Elissa Watersonfrom the School of Criminology at Griffith University examine 11 predictivefactors for youth offending. They find that physical abuse is a significantpredictive factor, while sexual and emotional abuse was not related to lateroffending.
Dr Graycar noted that critically important information for policy-making isyielded from the very large administrative data set used in this study, andfurthermore, Significant benefits in crime reduction and outcomes for childrencan be obtained by directing attention to those children who are maltreated andensuring that maltreatment is not repeated.
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