Childhood Maltreatment and Repeat Offending in Juvenile Delinquents: A Propensity Score Matched-Control Study


Juvenile recidivism is a serious public health concern. Using statewide administrative data, this study examined the independent predictive value of childhood maltreatment on repeat offending and compared risk factors for recidivism between 698 first-time juvenile offenders with maltreatment and their propensity score matched sample of 698 without maltreatment. For 3 years, 65.2% of maltreated offenders and 61.5% of their matched sample recidivated after their initial offense. The effect of childhood maltreatment on recidivism remained statistically significant beyond the inclusion of control variables. In both groups, being a youth of color and having a diagnosed emotional/behavioral disability increased risk for recidivism. Additional risk factors included being a male for maltreated offenders and out-of-school suspension, entry into the juvenile justice system at younger ages, and out-of-home placement only after their first offense or continuing placement for their matched sample without maltreatment. Preventive interventions must be responsive to such different risks.

Publication Title

Youth and Society