The crossover crisis: Understanding the link between child maltreatment and youth in conflict with the law

Jacob Murray

This presentation will explore how children in foster care are more likely than their non-foster-care peers to become involved with the youth justice system; and how a civil society can better support children in their families, or in foster care, to divert children from engaging with the criminal justice system. Children in foster care are more likely to come from socially disadvantaged families because many of their families of origin lack the necessary social and financial resources to meet their children’s basic needs because parents lack well-paying work, or the necessary social supports that allow them to positively cope with personal stress and the stressors or parenting. While the foster system aims to help children and families, it is often a challenge to meet the high-level of cognitive and social-emotional needs that many foster children have. If we choose to apply an empathetic lens, recognizing the multifaceted nature of children’s lives, we cannot ignore the psychological trauma many children in foster care face. It has been identified that a key facet for supporting children in care is to encourage service and care providers to establish healthy and positive relationships with the children they are tasked with protecting so that children will learn to build caring and trusting relationships with adults and mentors.  When society chooses to protect and support all children, we also choose to envision and create a better future, where all children can reach their full potential.