Methods: This study uses linked administrative data to identify the incidence of dual-system involvement and explore system experiences among a sample of justice-involved girls with histories of out of home care (N = 459) to better understand girls’ trajectory through and across systems and to identify areas for intervention. About half of the youth also had a history of CSE (n = 222). All youth were female and 19 years old at data extract. Nearly two-thirds were African American and 29% were Latina. A no-CSE sample (n = 237) was matched on age, race/ethnicity, and gender.
Results: The age of first arrest was just over 14 years old for both the CSE and no-CSE groups. The youth with a history of CSE, were significantly more likely to first be arrested for a misdemeanor compared to the no-CSE group who were more likely to first be arrested for a felony. Youth with a history of CSE were arrested more frequently, had more bench warrants issued, more petitions filed and sustained, and entered juvenile hall more often compared to the no-CSE group. Nearly all youth were dually involved; 98% of the youth with a history of CSE and 94% of the comparison youth. Both groups were about six years old on average at the time of first maltreatment report and averaged between 7-8 maltreatment allegations. Youth with a history of CSE were significantly more likely to have experienced multiple maltreatment allegations. Importantly, about two-thirds (69%) of youth who had been identified as having experienced CSE by the juvenile justice system had not been identified as having experienced CSE by child protective services.
Conclusions and Implications: These findings reveal that although most justice-involved girls with histories in out of home care are dual system youth, those with histories of CSE have significantly more system contact compared to their counterparts. This highlights the importance of enhancing cross-system collaboration to both identify and prevent CSE among system-involved girls. Standardized screening, integrated data systems, and multidisciplinary coordination are needed to address youth’s complex needs.