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Gender variation in delinquent behavior changes of child welfare-involved youth

By Ariana W. Postlethwait, Richard P. Barth and Shenyang Guo


The number of girls engaging in delinquent behaviors in the U.S. is increasing. While more studies of female delinquency are appearing, such studies specific to the child welfare population are limited. The current research examines youth reported and investigated as maltreated because limited information exists for this high-risk group of youth about gender differences in delinquency, and the factors associated with changes in such behavior. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) a national longitudinal probability study of youth reported and investigated as maltreated in the United States. Youth were aged 11 to 15 years at baseline, the time of the initial maltreatment investigation (n = 1134). Changes in delinquent behavior varied by level of depression and discipline for females and by level of substance use for males. Such differences speak to the possibility of a need for more attention to the different needs of males and females involved with the child welfare system in an effort to prevent and reduce delinquent behaviors.Child welfare Delinquency Maltreatment Gender Risk Longitudinal

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