JOURNAL ARTICLE

Growing up with adversity: From juvenile justice involvement to criminal persistence and psychosocial problems in young adulthood

Miguel Basto-Pereira, Ana Miranda, Sofia Ribeiro, Ângela Maia
Child Abuse & Neglect 2016, 62: 63-75
27794243
Several studies have been carried out to investigate the effect of child maltreatment on juvenile justice involvement and future criminal life. However, little is known about the impact of other forms of adversity, beyond abuse and neglect, on juvenile delinquency and criminal persistence. The effect of early adversity on psychosocial problems is underexplored, particularly in juvenile delinquents. This study, using the Childhood Adverse Experiences (ACE) questionnaire, a tool accessing the exposure to different types of abuse, neglect and serious household dysfunction, explored the role of each adverse experience on juvenile justice involvement, persistence in crime and psychosocial problems during young adulthood. A Portuguese sample of 75 young adults with official records of juvenile delinquency in 2010/2011, and 240 young adults from a community sample completed ACE questionnaire and measures of psychosocial adjustment. Seven out of ten adverse experiences were significantly more prevalent in young adults with juvenile justice involvement than in the community sample, after matching the main demographic variables. The strongest predictor of juvenile justice involvement and criminal persistence during early adulthood was sexual abuse. Dimensions of child/adolescent emotional maltreatment and a mental illness in the household predicted a set of psychosocial problems in young adulthood. This study indicates that early adversity is significantly related to juvenile justice involvement, criminal persistence and psychosocial problems. This study also suggests that each experience has a different role in this process. There is an urgent need to screen, prevent and stop serious adversity. Future scientific directions and recommendations for policies are provided.

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