Date: 22 May 2009

Service System Involvement and Delinquent Offending at System of Care Entry

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Abstract

This study examines correlates of delinquent offending among 2,554 youths presenting to community-based treatment in Center for Mental Health Services-funded systems of care. Variables in five key domains, including demographics, family risk, child clinical risk, school, and service system involvement, were examined in relation to severity of offending at treatment entry for early/middle (11–15 years) versus late (16–18 years) adolescents. Significant correlates of offending severity were identified in all domains except family risk for the 11 to 15 year olds and in demographics and child clinical risk for the 16 to 18 year olds. Service system involvement was a unique correlate of delinquency in the younger group. Findings add to other studies showing that correlates of offending appear to differ across stages of adolescence; specifically, school and service system involvement may be less important for older adolescents than for younger adolescents. Service system involvement should be included in longitudinal studies of risk for adolescent offending.