NSCAW II Child Well-Being Spotlight: Adolescents with a History of Maltreatment Have Unique Service Needs That May Affect Their Transition to Adulthood

Publication Date: November 26, 2012


Without proper support systems in place, adolescents in the child welfare system may face challenges transitioning to self-sufficiency and adulthood. According to the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), adolescents with a report of child abuse or neglect exhibit risk factors that may affect their future outcomes. NSCAW data suggest that more than half of adolescents reported for maltreatment are at risk for an emotional or behavioral problem, and a substantial proportion exhibit other risk factors, including poor social skills, grade repetition, substance use disorder, running away, having made a court appearance for an offense (delinquency, running away, truancy, or other offenses), and (among adolescent girls) having been pregnant. The prevalence of some of these factors was especially high among older adolescents (15 to 17 years old). More than three fourths of adolescents exhibited at least one of these risk factors and were at higher risk than youth nationally. Adolescents in the NSCAW sample were approximately twice as likely to have poor social skills or experience a teen pregnancy, and three times more likely to have a substance use disorder or to have run away.

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