Maltreatment and delinquency: Investigating child welfare bias in juvenile justice processing

Joseph P. Ryan, Denise Herz, Pedro M. Hernandez, Jane Marie Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


There is at least thirty years of research that focuses on the increased risk of delinquency associated with child maltreatment. Yet there are few studies that investigate the outcomes associated with victims of child abuse and neglect beyond the initial arrest. Using child welfare and juvenile justice administrative data from Los Angeles County, the current study investigates the relationship between child welfare status and two judicial outcomes: case dismissal and probation. The results indicate that delinquency cases originating in child welfare are less likely to receive probation, controlling for a wide range of factors including age, gender, race, and type of offense. The results also indicate that the child welfare system is a significant source of overrepresentation for African American youth in juvenile justice. Adolescents simultaneously involved with child welfare and juvenile justice may require alternative arrangements with regard to juvenile justice dispositions and placements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1050
Number of pages16
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Silberman Fund Faculty Grant Program.


  • Child welfare
  • Juvenile justice
  • Overrepresentation


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