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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

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      BackgroundChildhood 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.AimsTo investigate which risk factors are associated with (re-)offending of childhood offenders from an ethnic minority.MethodDutch-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).ResultsAll 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.ConclusionThe 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.

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      Most cited references 55

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          The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: a research note.

          A novel behavioural screening questionnaire, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), was administered along with Rutter questionnaires to parents and teachers of 403 children drawn from dental and psychiatric clinics. Scores derived from the SDQ and Rutter questionnaires were highly correlated; parent-teacher correlations for the two sets of measures were comparable or favoured the SDQ. The two sets of measures did not differ in their ability to discriminate between psychiatric and dental clinic attenders. These preliminary findings suggest that the SDQ functions as well as the Rutter questionnaires while offering the following additional advantages: a focus on strengths as well as difficulties; better coverage of inattention, peer relationships, and prosocial behaviour; a shorter format; and a single form suitable for both parents and teachers, perhaps thereby increasing parent-teacher correlations.

            Author and article information

            [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
            Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health
            Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
            BioMed Central
            20 October 2011
            : 5
            : 33
            Copyright ©2011 Paalman et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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