Child Sexual Abuse and the Juvenile Justice System: How the State of Delaware Approaches Interventions to Delinquency in Cases of Sexually Abused Adjudicated Juveniles

Turkel, Helen
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University of Delaware
Adjudicated juveniles often have histories of childhood sexual abuse. Children who are sexually abused are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior as juveniles and criminal behavior as adults. Childhood sexual abuse poses mental health risks that potentially contribute to delinquent and criminal behavior. In the past decade, the U.S. government has begun to examine the availability of mental health services in juvenile correctional facilities. In order for these mental health services to be effective, juvenile justice policies must take into account the contexts of the lives of these youth and design interventions and mental health services accordingly. Previous research has not examined how and if the juvenile justice system has addressed the issue of sexual abuse. The first purpose of this project was to examine previous research on child sexual abuse and delinquency. The second purpose of this project was to explore how the state of Delaware approaches adjudicated juveniles who have experienced sexual abuse. Interviews were conducted with professionals within the juvenile justice system including family court judges, juvenile probation officers, and advocates who specialize in childhood sexual abuse. These interviews examined how Delaware identifies childhood sexual abuse victims under juvenile justice custody, what the procedures are once this identification takes place, what types of resources and programs are allotted to this population and if the resources allotted to this population are appropriate and sufficient. In exploring these issues, this study aims to evaluate juvenile justice policy and perceptions in Delaware regarding the needs of juveniles who have experienced sexual victimization
childhood sexual abuse , juvenile justice system , state of Delaware , delinquency , adjudicated juveniles