The Sentencing Advisory Council recently published the Crossover Kids
report which looks at children who are known to child protection among sentenced and diverted children in the Victorian Children’s Court. The report provides a powerful analysis of the historical and current failure to adequately address the trauma of childhood abuse and neglect.
The report tells us that children
known to child protection are
over-represented in the youth
justice system. Of all children
sentenced or diverted in the
Victorian Children’s Court
in 2016 and 2017 38% had a
history of child protection.
Other findings from the report include:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly over-represented among children known to both the youth justice and the child protection systems.
- The younger children are at first sentence, the more likely they are to be known to child protection.
- Children who experience out-of-home care are a particularly vulnerable group.
- Children who experience residential care are over-represented in the youth justice system. 58% of sentenced or diverted children in out-of-home care were in residential care.
- Multiple placements in out-of-home-care is common (1 in 2 children had 5 or more placements ).
- 1 in 2 children sentenced to custody had a child protection background.
Previous studies have found early offending to be a strong predictor of re-offending and adult imprisonment
This report is timely given the Victorian Government’s recent budget announcement of significant spending on the expansion of prison infrastructure over the next four years. The report’s findings support our submission that adequately addressing the trauma of childhood abuse and neglect could significantly reduce the number of young people in the criminal justice system. It is past time to acknowledge and address children’s experiences of trauma.
The report is the first of two reports to be published. The second report will look more closely at the child protection profiles of children identified in the first report, for example, examining the type of harm or risk reported to child protection. We expect the report will reveal that the children most severely sentenced are those who have experienced the most serious harm.
Victoria’s most disadvantaged kids deserve a brighter future
Young people are being punished for being victims of childhood abuse and neglect