Preventing Delinquency Through Improved Child Protection Services

Research indicates that the prevalence of child abuse or neglect among delinquent offenders is substantially greater than it is among the general population. Moreover, maltreated children are significantly more likely to become involved in delinquent behavior than their nonmaltreated peers, and delinquent youth with a history of abuse or neglect are more likely to continue their offending behavior than delinquents who have not suffered child abuse or neglect. Given the links between child maltreatment and juvenile offending, designing and implementing programs to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment as a means of preventing delinquency are a promising — though often overlooked — strategy. After reviewing what is known about the links between childhood maltreatment and juvenile and adult offending, the authors review OJJDP’s Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders and examine the role that child protective services’ prevention efforts can play in delinquency prevention and intervention.