The following article on juvenile delinquency has three major objectives: First, it defines delinquency and discusses its measurement and extent; second, it reviews theory and risk factor data on causes of delinquency; third, it discusses current trends in juvenile justice intervention and delinquency prevention, including social worker involvement.
Runaways, throwaways, and homeless youths have always been present in the United States. In recent decades, however, society has become more aware of the problems they face as the problems have become more severe. The effectiveness of new approaches to helping these youths is yet to be determined.
Wendy Haight and Min Hae Cho
“Crossover youth” are maltreated youth who have engaged in delinquency. They are of particular concern to child welfare, juvenile justice, and other professionals because of their risks for problematic developmental outcomes. Effective interventions that promote more positive developmental trajectories require an understanding of the various pathways from maltreatment to delinquency. A growing body of research identifies potential risk and protective processes for maltreated youth crossing over into delinquency at ecological levels ranging from the micro to the macro. Most scholarship, however, is not developmental and provides little insight into how children’s emerging capacities relate to their abilities to actively respond to risk or protective processes. Solutions to crossing over are likely to be found in interventions that simultaneously address risk and protective processes across multiple ecological levels and across development. Emerging research suggests that the Crossover Youth Practice Model is one such promising intervention for improving outcomes for maltreated youth.