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Avoidance of Criminality in Abused and Neglected Children

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1991
13 pages
This paper compares previously abused and neglected children who have avoided official records of delinquency and adult criminality with those who have not.
The data used in this study were taken from a sample of child abuse and neglect cases in county court records from a metropolitan area in the midwest during the years 1967 through 1971. Only cases of child abuse and neglect that were validated and substantiated by the juvenile court were included in the sample. The sample included 412 males and 360 females; there were 514 whites and 258 blacks. Most of the children were neglected (78 percent); 5 percent were sexually abused, and 17 percent were physically abused. The dependent variable was avoidance of an arrest as a juvenile or as an adult, excluding arrest for adult traffic offenses. The four sets of independent variables were individual child characteristics, parent and family characteristics, placement experiences, and type of abuse experienced. The abused and neglected children who avoided arrest tended to be young, white, female, and without behavioral problems in childhood or pregnancy as a teenager; they do not have mothers, do not have fathers who were alcoholic, and were not living with mother and father at the time of the abuse incident. The study notes that avoidance of criminality does not necessarily mean that the adult abused or neglected as a child is living a competent, satisfying life. 5 tables, 2 figures, and 40 references

Date Published: January 1, 1991