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Does Out-of-Home Placement Mediate the Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Adult Criminality?

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2009 Pages: 344-355
Date Published
November 2009
12 pages

This study examined the role of out-of-home placement as a mediator of adult criminality.


The results of this study showed a neutral or slightly positive effect on adult criminality compared to no placement, consistent with earlier findings for the same sample using criminal history data. However, prior delinquency and placement instability were significant risk factors for adult criminality. Gender, not race, was identified as a significant moderator of the relationship between placement and adult criminality. The results of the study suggest that it may be time to move beyond a one-size-fits-all understanding of the short- and long-term criminal effects of childhood abuse and neglect and the interventions intended to prevent those consequences. Most research to date examining child welfare placement as a mediator between childhood maltreatment and criminal behavior has examined shorter-term outcomes related to juvenile delinquency. This study of 772 maltreated children provides an update and extension to previous research and examines, in depth, the role of placement as a mediator of adult criminality. In addition, it examines differential associations between placement and adult criminality by race and gender. Tables and references

Date Published: November 1, 2009