Why do some maltreated youth become juvenile offenders?: A call for further investigation and adaptation of youth services
Experiencing maltreatment is an established risk factor for delinquency. Yet, an understanding of the maltreatment-delinquency link is incomplete as few models have elucidated how maltreated youth become juvenile delinquents. This paper utilizes the latest empirical evidence to propose a diagram detailing pathways from maltreatment to delinquency through potential intervening risk factors, including substance abuse, mental health problems, school difficulties, negative peer networks, and running away from home. Hypothesized gender differences in pathways from maltreatment to delinquency are delineated. Implications for adaptation of child welfare and juvenile justice services to address the link between maltreatment and delinquency are discussed. This paper calls for testing and refining of the proposed pathways from maltreatment to delinquency in order to advance understanding of these complex relationships.
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