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16-04-2020 | Empirical Research Open Access

Neurodisability among Children at the Nexus of the Child Welfare and Youth Justice System

Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Susan Baidawi, Alex R. Piquero
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Although neurodisability features significantly across child welfare and youth justice cohorts, little research investigates neurodisability among crossover children with dual systems involvement. This study examined differences in childhood adversity, child protection involvement, and offending among crossover children by neurodisability status. Data were from a sample of 300 children (68% male, 31% female, 1% transgender; mean age = 16.2 years, range 10–21) who were charged and appeared in three Australian children’s courts, and who also had statutory child protection involvement in the study jurisdiction. The results indicated that nearly one-half of crossover children had a neurodisability (48%) and this group experienced greater cumulative maltreatment and adversity, earlier out-of-home care entry and offending onset, more caregiver relinquishment and residential care placement, and a greater volume of charges. While substantial differences between specific neurodisabilities were evident, crossover children with any neurodisability had greater odds of having charges related to criminal damage and motor vehicle theft, however they were no more likely to have violent charges relative to other crossover children. The study’s findings demonstrated that the prevalence of neurodisability, and child welfare system responses to this phenomenon, contributes to several offending-related trends observed among crossover children.

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