Briefing paper

Domestic and family violence by juvenile offenders: offender, victim and incident characteristics

Family violence Youth and violence Crime Juvenile offenders New South Wales
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Aim: To examine domestic and family violence perpetrated by juveniles in New South Wales, including identifying characteristics of offenders, victims, and incidents.

Method: Descriptive analysis was undertaken of a cohort of persons aged under 18 years who were proceeded against by New South Wales Police for domestic assault. A sub-sample of 200 police narratives for this cohort was further analysed to identify more detailed contextual factors associated with these incidents. Case studies are presented.

Results: While the majority of juvenile offenders were male, approximately one third were female. Approximately half of the sample of offenders had criminal proceedings in the 24 months prior to, and the 12 months following, the reference offence, showing a pattern of ongoing criminal behaviour. Victims were more likely to be female, and more likely to be a family member, predominantly a parent, than an intimate partner. Both male and female victims were more likely to be assaulted by a male than female offender. The vast majority of incidents occurred in the victim’s home and involved physical violence but did not involve a weapon. Alcohol and other drug use was infrequently associated with these incidents, however mental health issues experienced by the offender was noted in approximately one in four incidents.

Conclusion: While domestic and family violence by juveniles has commonalities with domestic and family violence by adults, the nature of the relationship between victims and offenders presents unique challenges in providing appropriate responses to, and services for, victims and offenders.

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