Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Cathy Spatz Widom

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Law


adult outcomes; child maltreatment; crossover youth; juvenile delinquency


Crossover youth, those with histories of childhood maltreatment and delinquency, may be at high risk for negative outcomes compared to other youth. However, very little is known about the long-term outcomes for this population. This dissertation compared four groups: youth with histories of child maltreatment and juvenile arrest (n = 180), youth with a history of maltreatment only (n = 428), youth with a history of juvenile arrest only (n = 91), and youth with no history of maltreatment or juvenile arrest (n = 496), on a range of outcomes, including mental health, education, employment, and criminal behavior. Data from a prospective cohort design study was used in which children with documented histories of physical and sexual abuse and neglect between the ages of 0 and 11, as well as matched controls, were subsequently interviewed at a mean age of 29 (N=1196). Analyses compared the four groups and examined potential differences by gender and race/ethnicity. Results indicated that crossover youth were at a significant disadvantage in likelihood for educational attainment, employment, and adult arrest when compared to other groups of youth, but were not necessarily at higher risk for lifetime psychiatric disorders. Overall, the impact of having both adversities was most salient for males and Black and Hispanic youth. Unexpectedly, crossover youth and arrested youth also had similar characteristics across many long-term outcomes. Furthermore, the similarities between crossover and arrested youth after accounting for self-reported delinquency, particularly when combined with the differences found between crossover and maltreated youth on psychosocial outcomes, strongly suggest that the juvenile justice system itself is associated with negative outcomes for crossover youth. This study yields information necessary for designing specialized treatment programs and interventions to improve and enhance the well-being of crossover youth.