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Severe emotional disturbance and violent offending among incarcerated adolescents.

The study reported in this article examined the prevalence of eligibility for educational services for serious emotional disturbance (SED) among incarcerated youths, as well as how this designation relates to offender type. Administrative data from juvenile corrections, county child welfare agencies, and the state Department of Education (special education services for SED) were matched across systems and used to investigate the relationship of SED to violent offending among incarcerated adolescents while controlling for prior child welfare and juvenile court histories. Logistic regression was used to understand whether youths with SED designations were more likely to be incarcerated for violent offenses. SED status was not significantly associated with incarceration as a violent offender. Implications for screening and intervention services are discussed.

Key words: juvenile corrections; serious emotional disturbance; special education; violence


Concern regarding the relationship between mental health disorders and serious and violent youthful offending is not new. Research indicates that comorbidity of psychiatric disorders and delinquency among youths is fairly substantial (Farrington et al., 1990; Loeber, Brinthaupt, & Green, 1990; Reinherz, Giaconia, Lefkowitz, Pakiz, & Frost, 1993; Williams, Ayers, & Arthur, 1997). Various studies have estimated that youths in juvenile justice systems experience mental health disorders at a rate of two to four times that of youths in the general population (Otto, Greenstein, Johnson, & Friedman, 1992). Yet, although the comorbidity research seems relatively well-developed, the study of how and when needs are identified and served is a newer area of inquiry (Burns, 1999; Stouthamer-Loeber, Loeber, & Thomas, 1992; Teplin, Abram, & McClelland, 1997). This gap in knowledge hampers the ability to guide policy and practice regarding when and how to intervene.

Research on mental health services and serious delinquency is complicated by the fact that different agencies use different eligibility criteria for services. Although schools are major providers or brokers of mental health services for children (Zahner, Pawelkiewicz, DeFrancesco, & Adnopoz, 1992), studies of mental disorder among delinquents typically focus on diagnostic labels such as DSM-IV diagnoses used by noneducation personnel. Yet, some school-based mental health services, such as the educational services provided for serious emotional disturbance (SED), are based on entirely different criteria. For a youth to have a label of SED, he or she must exhibit one or more of the following to a marked degree so that it affects educational performance: the inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; and a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems (Office of Special Education Programs, 1997). The present study adds to the emerging body of research on service use, SED, and delinquency by investigating mental health disorder identified by the public school system among incarcerated juveniles.

Estimates of the prevalence of SED among youths can be unreliable because of problems with definitions, measures, and methodology. The United States Office of Special Education Programs (1997) estimated that between 1 and 10 million children are disabled by SED, but only about 440,000 children are receiving special education services. Other researchers estimated the prevalence rate of SED for youths in the general population at 9 percent to 13 percent (Friedman, Katz-Levy, Manderscheid, & Sandheimer, 1996). The national rate of special education service for SED has remained stable at slightly less than 1 percent (Oswald & Coutinho, 1995). Eligibility requirements can be modified by the Department of Education in a given state. For example, California's percentage of school-age children identified as SED in 1995-96 was slightly over .3 percent--well below the national level (Office of Special Education Programs, 1997).

Some studies have found that SED children are likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system (Bryant et al., 1995; Doren, Bullis, & Benz, 1996). Understanding this association, however, is confounded by the fact that incarcerated youths frequently experience negative life events that are linked to both mental health disorders and the development of delinquent behaviors. For example, associations have been found between child abuse and neglect and a heightened risk of mental disorder and substance abuse, which also are associated with delinquency (Dembo et al., 1990; Garland, Landsverk, Hough, & Ellis-MacLeod, 1996; Rivera & Widom, 1990; Silverman, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1996; Vega, Zimmerman, Warheit, Apospori, & Gil, 1993). Early onset of offending has been linked to both serious youthful offending and mental health disorders (Bryant et al.; Loeber et al., 1990; Tolan & Thomas, 1995; Williams et al., 1997). Furthermore, some studies indicate that different aspects of child welfare system intervention are associated with a change in the risk of later serious offending (Jonson-Reid & Barth, 2000; Widom, 1991). Although it is impossible to control for all the multiple risk factors and service variables that have a potential association with offense type, this study adds to the literature on the relationship between SED status and serious delinquency by controlling for several potential confounding factors: age at which a youth became eligible for SED services, prior child welfare agency services, prior juvenile court involvement, and eligibility for a formal substance abuse program when incarcerated.

This study addresses three research questions:

1. What is the prevalence of the SED designation among incarcerated offenders? It was not clear whether youths with a designation as SED would be over- or underrepresented in California's juvenile corrections system,

California Youth Authority (CYA). On one hand, studies of the mental health needs of incarcerated populations might suggest a higher level of representation. On the other hand, this study investigated the designation of SED (rather than need). It was possible that identified cases of mental disorder might help a defense attorney leverage an alternative sentence to a mental health facility rather than corrections, thus lowering the prevalence of incarcerated adolescents.

2. How long had these youths been receiving educational support services related to the SED diagnosis? Here, we were interested in understanding whether the incarcerated youths with SED designations had an opportunity to benefit from services before entering the CYA system.

3. What is the relationship between SED classification and violent versus nonviolent offending, controlling for prior child welfare history, prior juvenile justice history, and recommendation for a specialized substance abuse treatment program at entry into CYA? We hypothesized that SED-identified incarcerated youths who also had indicators of the presence of multiple risk factors--that is, child abuse and neglect reports, prior juvenile court petitions, and eligibility for a formal substance abuse program-- would be more frequently found among the violent offenders. It could be argued that prior services provided by child welfare agencies or juvenile courts might act as mitigating factors (Jonson-Reid & Barth, 2000), but this seemed less likely in a sample of youths who were already incarcerated.


This article reports results from analyses of three administrative databases that were matched across systems using specialized probabilistic matching software (AUTOMATCH[C]). These data include CYA, child abuse reporting and child welfare services, and State Department of Education special education services for SED. Both the CYA data (corrections system for serious juvenile offenders) and the SED data are statewide. Because California had not yet implemented a statewide system for the collection of child maltreatment report information, the multisystem overlap investigation and multivariate model of violent offending were restricted to 10 counties in which child maltreatment report data systems were computerized and compatible. The 10-county sample included urban, suburban-urban, and rural areas and contained more than one-third of California's child population. In 1992, six of the 10 counties reported a very high juvenile violent crime rate of more than 500 per 100,000 juveniles, the highest in that category nationwide (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995).

Administrative data sources are limited to the variables that agencies choose to collect and can be further compromised by the data entry practices of the agencies (Drake & Jonson-Reid, 1999). On the other hand, systems used to track eligibility and day-to-day case management issues or to procure funding often are more carefully staffed and maintained. Furthermore, by working closely with local agency representatives, it is possible to gain an understanding of the reliability of the variables recorded (Goerge, 1995). Each database used in this study was maintained by separate data entry staff, meaning the line worker was not responsible for entering data. Data cleaning and coding were completed in close consultation with data entry and management personnel from each contributing agency. Variables reflecting basic intake information and dates used to track entry and program participation within the three agencies were deemed quite reliable. In addition, three variables of substantive interest were included from the juvenile corrections data: (1) prior juvenile incarceration, (2) a record of prior sustained delinquency petitions, and (3) recommendation for a formal substance abuse treatment program within CYA.


The study sample included youths incarcerated in the California Youth Authority (CYA) facilities from 1991 through 1996. The CYA system is designed to house the most serious and chronic youthful offenders. Convicted felons sometimes enter CYA for the first time after age 18, but these cases are rare and were excluded from the present study. On receipt of the special education data, it was discovered that we had information only for youths who had active SED cases as of 1996. The sample was restricted to include only the youths ages 20 years or younger in 1996, to minimize the possibility that youths in the sample may have been old enough to move out of special education prior to 1996 (statewide n = 14,342; 10-county n = 4,289). The data on children with investigated reports of child maltreatment were restricted to reports of children over the age of six, because younger children would not have been old enough to enter CYA during the study period. There were very minor differences between offender characteristics in the statewide and the 10-county samples (see Table 1).


Dependent Variable. "Primary commitment offense" was divided into two categories: (1) nonperson crimes (for example, possession or sale of drugs and property and drug-related nonviolent crimes like burglary or auto theft) and (2) violent crimes (for example, assault, rape, robbery, and murder).

Independent Variable. Serious emotional disturbance is defined by the presence or absence of a record of receipt of special education services for serious emotional disturbance as defined by the California Department of Education. Date of eligibility for SED service also was used to understand how long a youth had been eligible for services before incarceration.

Control Variables. "Child demographics" included ethnicity, gender, and date of birth. "Family demographics" included parental marital status (never married or other) at time of incarceration and number of siblings, "Child maltreatment investigation" indicated that a child abuse or neglect report was referred for an investigation rather than closed at intake. "Child welfare services" indicated that a child's case was opened for in-home or out-of-home services after the investigation of the initial child maltreatment allegation. "Prior juvenile justice history" was measured by two variables: (1) record of prior sustained juvenile delinquency petitions (three or more) and (2) prior incarceration in a non-CYA facility (yes/no). It was not possible to assess whether information was missing because "missing" was equivalent to "not present." "Placement into a formal program for substance abuse problems" at time of incarceration was used as a proxy for substance abuse issues. Each ward is given a substance abuse scale that yields three levels of need for counseling services: (1) no use or low use of substances, (2) moderate involvement with substances/counseling recommended within the regular program, and (3) serious use problems/formal counseling program required. (It is not known if this scale has been cross-validated with other substance abuse measures.) Because the CYA data are most reliable for tracking program placement, the recording of the scale score was less reliable for youths whose scores fell below the level that qualified wards for the specialized counseling required. For analysis purposes the variable was dichotomized, indicating referral for a separate formal substance abuse program or not. This decision was cross-checked in two ways: (1) by using a regression equation to replace missing values (Chen, Staudt, & Chang, 1997), it was found that none of the missing cases fell within the serious use problem range; and (2) the logistic regression model of violent offending was conducted using a dummy variable for the missing data, and no significant difference was found in model specification. There was no measure of income available for this study; however, studies of incarcerated populations, SED populations, and child welfare populations have noted a strong association with poverty (Culatta & Tompkins, 1999; Jonson-Reid, 2000; Williams et al., 1997). An earlier study of children reported for maltreatment, using California data, found that those who became incarcerated had frequently come from impoverished census tracts (Jonson-Reid). Although lacking an income variable is a limitation, it seems unlikely that there would be sufficient variation in income within the present sample to detect an effect.

Analyses. Descriptive statistics for the SED and CYA data are presented at the statewide level to give a more complete picture of the overlap of these two systems and the characteristics of incarcerated youths with SED designations. Because we also were interested in controlling for child welfare system involvement, the multisystem investigation and logistic regression model of violent offending were restricted to a 10-county region.

To better understand the association between SED and incarceration for a violent offense, a logistic regression model was constructed. Five cases (four of which were violent offenders) were deleted from the 10-county sample because of the small subpopulation sample size; these cases had records of SED and were referred to the mandated counseling program, and four cases also had prior records of child welfare contact. Youths of "other" ethnic backgrounds were removed from the sample because the group was too heterogenous. Variables were coded as dummy variables. The likelihood ratio chi-square statistic was used to determine how well the model fit the data (n = 3,728; 1,879 violent). Beginning with a fully saturated model, interaction terms were gradually removed if they did not add significantly to the model. The model was constructed using the PROC LOGISTIC procedure in SAS, which provides odds ratios, confidence intervals, and a generalized [R.sup.2].


Prevalence and Time Eligible for SED

Statewide, 309 (2.2 percent) of 14,342 youths incarcerated in CYA facilities also were receiving educational services because of their SED classification. Mean age of entry into CYA was 16 years; mean age of eligibility for SED was 14.6 years. Among the 309 SED-identified CYA wards, the majority (more than 60 percent) became eligible for SED services within 12 months of the point at which they were committed to a CYA facility. Juvenile court processing leading to commitment in CYA can take several months. This means that for the youths identified as SED at about the same age they entered CYA, any specialized educational services received were provided within juvenile detention facilities. Of the 309 youths eligible for services related to SED, only 121 were identified at least one year before commitment. Furthermore, a large proportion of CYA youths had at least three sustained delinquency petitions before commitment, meaning that contact with the juvenile court began well before entry into CYA. Even among the 121 youths, it is likely that juvenile court involvement preceded the identification of emotional needs by the educational system. Almost 6 percent of the incarcerated white youths were SED compared with 3 percent of African American youths and fewer than 1 percent of the Hispanic youths. A slightly higher proportion of incarcerated females were identified as SED compared with males (2.8 percent versus 2.1 percent).

SED and Violent Offending

To investigate the association between SED and violent offending while controlling for a prior investigated report of child abuse and neglect and child welfare services, the sample was restricted to 10 counties for which child welfare data were available (n = 4,289). The prevalence of SED was slightly lower than the statewide level (1.9 percent compared with 2.2 percent); mean age of eligibility for educational services for SED was 14.7 years. Twenty-two percent of the CYA youths came from a single-parent (never-married) household with a mean number of 3.7 siblings. About 21 percent of the incarcerated youths had received at least investigative services from county child welfare agencies as a result of a report of abuse or neglect after age six. Contact with child welfare agencies occurred, on average, about three years before incarceration. About 48 percent of the CYA wards had a record of three or more sustained delinquency petitions before the commitment offense.

There was a difference in the proportion of reported risk factors among the SED-identified wards compared with non-SED wards. Mean age of entry into CYA among SED-identified youths was slightly lower than CYA youths overall at 15.9 years. Nearly 45 percent of the SED youths reported coming from a single-parent (never-married) home compared with 22 percent of CYA youths overall. There was significant overlap between the SED and child welfare populations. Forty-six percent of the incarcerated youths with SED designations had a prior history of being investigated by child welfare authorities as a victim of child abuse or neglect compared with 21 percent of CYA youths overall. About 57 percent of SED youths had a record of three or more prior sustained juvenile court petitions compared with about 47 percent of all CYA youths.

A logit model was constructed to explore the likelihood of incarceration for a violent offense. Because of the heterogeneity in the ethnic group categorized as "other," the overlap between systems was explored using the sample restricted to those 20 years or younger in 1996 and to African American, white, and Hispanic youths (n = 3,728). Of the 3,728, 50 percent were incarcerated for a violent primary offense. Several interactions were included in the final model (Table 2). Odds over one indicate an increase in the likelihood of services and odds less than one suggest a lower likelihood that the youth had entered CYA as a result of a violent offense. The model LR [[chi square](251, N =3,728) = 269, p < .21] indicated that the model fit the data relatively well. The [R.sup.2] indicates that about 14 percent of the variance was explained. Sensitivity was quite high at 97 percent, but the specificity of the model was slightly less than 14 percent.

The main effect of SED designation was not significant. The interaction term including the youths with SED designation and three or more sustained delinquency petitions before incarceration neared significance, and these youths were more frequently among the violent offenders (odds ratio = 2.22, p = .12). Previous child welfare contact generally reduced the likelihood of being among the violent offenders in the sample, but the interaction terms indicated that this was not true for all populations. Female offenders with previous records of child welfare services beyond an investigation were almost four times more likely to be incarcerated for a violent offense (odds ratio = 3.74, p = .05) than females with no prior child welfare records or cases that were closed following investigation. African American and Hispanic youths were more frequently among the violent offenders--this likelihood was even greater for the African American youths with prior investigated reports of child maltreatment (odds ratio = 2.02, p = .05) or child welfare cases opened for services (odds ratio = 2.76, p = .05). Similarly, interaction terms that included prior juvenile court history indicated that while main effects of prior incarceration (odds ratio = .41, p = .0001) and three or more sustained delinquency petitions (odds ratio = .39, p = .0001) reduced the likelihood of being among violent offenders, this reduction in risk did not hold true for youths with prior incarceration records who entered CYA before age 14 (odds ratio = 1.66, p = .05) or chronic offenders with prior episodes of incarceration (odds ratio = 1.41, p = .05). Eligibility for a formal substance abuse program was not associated with offender type.


About 2 percent of the CYA wards were also eligible for special education services related to SED. This is about seven times the rate of SED designation among the child population in California (Office of Special Education Programs, 1997). It appears that, similar to studies of DSM diagnoses among juvenile detainees, the rate of mental disorder as defined by the educational system is higher among the incarcerated population (Otto et al., 1992; Teplin et al., 1997).

Based on the date when SED-identified youths became eligible for educational support services related to their disorder, it was apparent that most of the these youths entered the special education system after or relatively shortly before being incarcerated. It seems unlikely that these youths suddenly began experiencing difficulties related to SED following contact with law enforcement--particularly since eligibility for SED designation also requires academic difficulties. It seems more likely that the needs of these youths went undetected before juvenile court involvement for serious delinquent activities. Although the pathway from various mental disorders to juvenile offending is still being researched (Davis, Bean, Schumacher, & Stringer, 1991; Dembo et al., 1990; Teplin et al., 1997), it is possible that earlier detection and service might have averted the later outcome of incarceration for some of these youths. Furthermore, youths whose emotional disability is identified after incarceration will receive less intensive services than those identified before incarceration (Leone, 1994). Therefore youths who escape detection until after incarceration are even less likely to benefit from services.

Youths classified as SED were almost equally represented between violent and nonviolent offenders, and SED status was not associated with a greater likelihood of being among violent offenders in the multivariate model. Youths incarcerated for violent offenses, youths with prior child welfare contact, and youths with SED were, however, disproportionately from ethnic minority groups. These findings are consistent with other research investigating racial disparities in the juvenile justice and special education systems (Doren et al., 1996; Office of Special Education Programs, 1997; Sickmund, Snyder, & Poe-Yamagata, 1997). It is important to note, however, that the data used in this study are limited to youths incarcerated in the most restrictive juvenile detention facilities in California. It is not known whether the overrepresentation reflects over-identification, underlying effects of poverty, or other systemic bias.

The relationship among prior sustained delinquency petitions, prior incarceration events, and violent offenders is consistent with literature relating earlier onset and escalation of offending to violent crime (Williams et al., 1997). Yet, although there was significant overlap between the child welfare and SED populations and a history of juvenile court involvement and SED eligibility, our hypothesis about the association between multiple indicators of risk and violent offending was not supported. A similar finding was reported in a study of juvenile delinquency among youths classified as SED (Bryant et al., 1995). Perhaps the best interpretation of this finding is that children involved in multiple systems are more likely to be at risk of a range of persistent behavioral issues and thus are heavily over-represented in the nonviolent classification. In other words, committing a violent offense typically triggers a more restrictive sentence regardless of prior delinquent records, whereas being committed to CYA for nonviolent offenses may be more frequently associated with chronic offending and multiple problems.

There were two findings of note related to race and gender and child welfare contact. Young women with prior open child welfare cases and African American youths with any prior contact with child welfare agencies were frequently among the violent offenders. The association between intervention and increased delinquency among female adolescents is consistent with at least two other studies (Chamberlein & Reid, 1994; Jonson-Reid & Barth, 2000). There are several possible explanations. If young women manifest internalized coping mechanisms in reaction to maltreatment, detection and service may be delayed, resulting in poor outcomes because of long-term exposure to maltreatment (Wolfe & McGee, 1994). Furthermore, our sample includes children who received child welfare services in middle childhood or later, and some research suggests that young women manifest more antisocial behavior if maltreatment occurs later in childhood (Pakiz, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1997). It is possible that within families deemed to be at high-enough risk to warrant services after an investigation of abuse and neglect, females may encounter more situations that lead to a violent crime. Young women or girls arrested for homicide are more likely to have committed the offense because of family conflict rather than as part of another crime (Loper & Cornell, 1996).

We found that African American youths with prior child welfare contact were more frequently among the violent offenders, but prospective investigations of African American children receiving child welfare services have noted a decrease in later delinquent outcomes (Jonson-Reid & Barth, 2000; McMurtry & Lie, 1992). Although maltreated African American youths who receive services may generally have better longer-term outcomes, among those who do become delinquent there may be a tendency toward person-related crime. The present finding may also indicate that committing a violent offense offsets any tendency toward leniency in sentencing because of a history of maltreatment.


Similar to other studies, our findings show that a significant number of SED youths come in contact with the juvenile justice system (Bryant et al., 1995). Increasing services seems the obvious remedy, but it is difficult to make specific recommendations on the basis of this study. First, each state may use different criteria and different screening procedures in their educational and juvenile correctional facilities. Further study is needed to determine whether the same issues are evident in other states. The second limitation of the study is the use of administrative data that lacked information on onset and severity of risk behaviors like substance abuse, mental health disorders not covered within the SED designation, or child abuse report histories before age six. Future research should include both SED and DSM-IV measures to examine whether different designations of mental health disorder are associated with violent offending. Additional studies also should include more comprehensive measures of risks, such as substance abuse and reports of maltreatment before age six. Finally, whereas the model fit the data, the predictive value of the model was not high. This is consistent with reports of earlier studies attempting to predict violent behavior accurately (Lipsey & Derzon, 1998). Despite these limits, administrative data studies are important precursors of more in-depth investigation, because they provide large enough samples to examine rare factors like SED eligibility.


A relatively large proportion of all incarcerated youths, including those identified as SED, were engaged in the child welfare system and the local juvenile courts before CYA entry. Our findings cannot answer the question of why, despite multiple system involvement, so many of the SED-identified offenders were not detected earlier. It may be that despite functional problems, underlying mental or emotional disorders go undetected for a long time in certain settings (Zahner et al., 1992). This suggests the need to improve appropriate mental health screening and service mechanisms--particularly in the child welfare and school settings, where children can be served before engaging in delinquent acts. One answer to the assessment needs of at-risk youths may be to increase the use of social workers in school settings. School social workers, where they exist, are called on frequently to serve children with attendance or behavioral problems that may mask underlying emotional or mental health needs. Thus, school social workers are in an excellent position to help identify children who may need mental health services.

Better screening methods alone, however, cannot solve the problem of providing services. As public service systems become more overwhelmed, the ability to provide anything beyond assessment or short-term interventions is limited. Such limits are confounded by the shortage and fragmentation of community-based services for the treatment of mental disorders among children and youths (Collins & Collins, 1994). We hope that the increasing attention to services use in research also will assist agencies in requesting funds to develop the needed network of service providers by better demonstrating the gap between needs and services and the potential relationship between services and better outcomes.

Finally, this study highlights the multiple needs of incarcerated youths. To reintegrate these young people into society successfully, corrections facilities must have trained personnel to help overcome the barriers to rehabilitation. Studies of SED youths in corrections facilities indicate that even for these youths, who are covered by funded services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (P.L. 90-247), the services to meet their needs are inadequate (Leone, 1994). Without intervention it seems likely that the risk factors that contribute to SED-classified individuals' incarceration as juveniles will continue to diminish the likelihood of positive outcomes as they exit the facility.
TABLE 1--Comparison of 10-County with Statewide CYA Entries, 1990-1996

 Percent 10 Percent
 County Statewide
 (age 20 or (age 20 or
 younger) younger)
 (n = 4,289) (n = 14,342)

Age at entry into CYA
 <=14 years 8.4 7.8
 African American 26.1 27.5
 White 13.3 15.7
 Hispanic 47.6 47.1
 Other 13.0 9.7
 Female 4.2 4.3
Family structure
 Single-parent (never married) 22.0 19.0
 Two-parent 22.7 20.8
Prior non-CYA incarceration
 Yes 46.4 43.1
Specialized substance
 abuse program
 Yes 7.1 6.8
Violent offense
 Yes 51.6 60.1
Investigated report of
 child maltreatment
 Yes 20.7 --
Serious emotional disturbance
 Special education (Yes) 1.9 2.2

NOTES: CYA = California Youth Authority. -- = not available.
TABLE 2--Odds Ratios from Logistic Regression Model of
Incarceration for a Violent Offense (N = 3,728; violent = 1,879)
and Serious Emotional Disturbance among Incarcerated Youths

Variable n Ratio (a)

Age at entry to CYA
 15 or older 3,416 1.00 +
 Less or equal to 14 312 0.59 **
 White 572 1.00
 African American 1,117 1.95 ***
 Hispanic 2,039 1.80 ***
Two-parent family
 No 3,037 1.00
 Yes 691 1.25 (a)
 No 3,564 1.00
 Yes 164 .77
Substance abuse counseling program
 No 3,446 1.00
 Yes 282 1.04
Prior incarceration (commit)
 No 1,943 1.00
 Yes 1,785 0.41 ***
Number of sustained petitions (numpet)
 Less than three 1,597 1.00
 More than three 2,131 0.39 ***
Serious emotional disturbance (SED)
 No 3,657 1.00
 Yes 71 0.68
Child abuse or neglect report investigated
 No 2,910 1.00
 Investigated, then closed (CWS1) 553 0.47 **
 Investigated and opened for services
 (CWS2) 265 0.43 *
 SED/numpet 43 2.22
 Female/CWS1 42 1.02
 Female/CWS2 27 3.74 *
 African American/CWS1 161 2.02 *
 African American/CWS2 91 2.76 *
 Hispanic/CWS1 281 1.66
 Hispanic/CWS2 126 1.65
 Commit/14 or younger at entry 108 1.66 *
 Commit/numpet 1,293 1.41 *

NOTE: CWS = child welfare system.

(a) Cells with an odds ratio of 1.00 were used as comparison

LR [chi square] (251, N = 3,728) = 269.2, p = .21, Max-rescaled
[R.sup.2] = .14.

* p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p = .0001. p values near significance are
given in parentheses.


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Original manuscript received August 10, 2000

Final revision received February 5, 2001

Accepted March 21, 2001

The authors thank the California Department of Education, the California Department of Social Services, and the California Youth Authority for their support. Research was partially funded through grant number 96-JN-FX-0008 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, u.s. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Portions of this article were presented at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, Charleston, South Carolina, January 2000. Send correspondence and requests for reprints to Melissa Jonson-Reid.

Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD, is assistant professor, and James Herbert Williams, PhD, is associate professor and assistant dean for Academic Affairs, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, Campus Box 1196, One Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63130; e-mail: jonsonrd@gwbmail. Daniel Webster, PhD, is senior research associate, Center for Social Services Research, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
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Author:Jonson-Reid, Melissa; Williams, James Herbert; Webster, Daniel
Publication:Social Work Research
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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