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School Engagement and Juvenile Offending Among Maltreated Youth Who Vary by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Type of Child Maltreatment

NCJ Number
Thomas P. George, Ph.D.
Date Published
43 pages
Using a cohort of 367,063 youth in Washington State born between 1987 and 1994, this study examined school engagement and juvenile justice involvement at age 16 in relation to race/ethnicity and gender as well as whether or not a youth had been maltreated and, if so, the type of maltreatment.
The study found that maltreated boys were 2.7 - 3.5 times more likely than non-maltreated boys to have poor school engagement, as measured by academic achievement, attendance, and behavioral interactions with teachers and other students; and maltreated girls were 3.4 - 4.2 times more likely than non-maltreated girls to have poor school engagement. Maltreated boys were 3.3 - 9.2 times more likely than non-maltreated boys to have committed a misdemeanor, felony, or violent felony by the age of 16; and maltreated girls were 3.8 - 12.0 times more likely to have committed such an offense by age 16. Regarding race/ethnicity, American-Indian, Black, and Hispanic boys and girls tended to have poorer performance in school than Asian and White youths, regardless of maltreatment experiences. Regarding type of maltreatment, physical abuse was related to suspensions/expulsions from school and criminal offending for both genders; however, sexual abuse among boys had the strongest relationship to violent felony offending, with a rate 17.6 times higher than non-maltreated boys, and significantly higher than physically abused or neglected boys. These findings provide important data that show the urgency of identifying and targeting for intervention at-risk individuals whose racial/ethnic characteristics and maltreatment experiences may undermine their positive development in school and society. The variables of interest were measured and subjected to appropriate statistical analysis. The methodology is described in detail. Extensive data figures and 24 references