Do childhood experiences of neglect affect delinquency among child welfare involved-youth?

Susan M. Snyder, Darcey H. Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Child neglect, which is the most common form of maltreatment in the United States, has been repeatedly linked to an increased risk of delinquency. However, the existing literature lacks studies that simultaneously investigate how distinct types of neglect differentially influence delinquency among child welfare involved-youth. In addition, few studies of the relationship between neglect and delinquency include measures of ADHD, peer deviance or community violence, even though these variables have been strongly associated with delinquency. This study uses data from 784 11 to 17. year old youth who participated in Wave I of the Second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing (NSCAW II) to examine whether supervisory neglect, physical neglect and parental substance abuse affect delinquency after controlling for ADHD, peer deviance, exposure to community violence, and out-of-home placements. We conducted a negative binomial regression to account for the low rates of delinquency among NSCAW II participants. We did not find significant main effects for supervisory neglect, physical neglect or parental substance abuse. Our study found that as youth age the count of delinquency acts increases. Black and Hispanic youth had higher counts of delinquency than youth with White, multi-racial, or "other" racial identities. Youth in out-of-home care had nearly double the rate of delinquency. Youth with more deviant peer affiliations and youth who had been exposed to community violence engaged in more delinquent behaviors. Our findings underscore the importance of the environment surrounding the youth, and the peers with whom the youth affiliates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Child neglect
  • Child welfare
  • Delinquency
  • Negative binomial regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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