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Open Access Research

Individual, family and offence characteristics of high risk childhood offenders: comparing non-offending, one-time offending and re-offending Dutch-Moroccan migrant children in the Netherlands

Carmen H Paalman1*, Lieke van Domburgh12, Gonneke WJM Stevens3 and Theo AH Doreleijers14

Author Affiliations

1 VU University Medical Centre, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 LSG-Rentray, Zutphen, the Netherlands

3 Utrecht University, Interdisciplinary Social Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht, the Netherlands

4 Leiden University, Faculty of Law, Leiden, the Netherlands

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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2011, 5:33  doi:10.1186/1753-2000-5-33

Published: 20 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Childhood offenders are at an increased risk for developing mental health, social and educational problems later in life. An early onset of offending is a strong predictor for future persistent offending. Childhood offenders from ethnic minority groups are a vulnerable at-risk group. However, up until now, no studies have focused on them.

Aims

To investigate which risk factors are associated with (re-)offending of childhood offenders from an ethnic minority.

Method

Dutch-Moroccan boys, who were registered by the police in the year 2006-2007, and their parents as well as a control group (n = 40) were interviewed regarding their individual and family characteristics. Two years later a follow-up analysis of police data was conducted to identify one-time offenders (n = 65) and re-offenders (n = 35).

Results

All groups, including the controls, showed substantial problems. Single parenthood (OR 6.0) and financial problems (OR 3.9) distinguished one-time offenders from controls. Reading problems (OR 3.8), having an older brother (OR 5.5) and a parent having Dutch friends (OR 4.3) distinguished re-offenders from one-time offenders. First offence characteristics were not predictive for re-offending. The control group reported high levels of emotional problems (33.3%). Parents reported not needing help for their children but half of the re-offender's families were known to the Child Welfare Agency, mostly in a juridical framework.

Conclusion

The Moroccan subgroup of childhood offenders has substantial problems that might hamper healthy development. Interventions should focus on reaching these families tailored to their needs and expectations using a multi-system approach.

Keywords:
childhood onset delinquency; childhood onset offending; migrant; ethnicity; risk factors