Adult outcomes of youths who have spent time in a judicial treatment institution in the Netherlands

Janna Verbruggen, Victor van der Geest, Catrien Bijleveld


Youths who have spent time in residential care may experience difficulties when making the transition to adulthood. This study examines adult outcomes of youths (N=251) who spent time in a Dutch judicial treatment institution. Moreover, the study investigates to what extent background characteristics and patterns in adult criminal behaviour are related to outcomes in adulthood. The study uses data from the 17up study, a longitudinal study following institutionalised youths into adulthood. Information on background characteristics is available from the youths’ treatment files. Outcomes in a variety of life domains, including the domains of housing, employment, family formation and health, have been assessed at a follow-up interview with respondents when they were, on average, 34 years old. Official data on criminal behaviour is used to reconstruct respondents’ criminal careers. The findings show that many young people who were placed in a judicial treatment institution during their youth experience difficulties in conventional life domains in adulthood, in particular in the areas of employment, mental health, and alcohol and drug abuse. Furthermore, results from a series of regression analyses and nonlinear canonical correlation analyses suggest that in general, those with chronic involvement in criminal behaviour are more likely to experience problems in multiple adult life domains. Most background characteristics are unrelated to adult outcomes. Therefore, the findings indicate that among youths with a history of institutionalisation, negative outcomes in adulthood are not so much predicted by childhood risk factors, but more so by criminal involvement in adulthood.


Adult outcomes; residential care; offending trajectories

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Copyright (c) 2018 Janna Verbruggen, Victor van der Geest, Catrien Bijleveld

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