Serious juvenile offenders: Classification into subgroups based on static and dynamic charateristics

Sanne L. Hillege*, Eddy F.J.M. Brand, Eva A. Mulder, Robert R.J.M. Vermeiren, Lieke van Domburgh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The population in juvenile justice institutions is heterogeneous, as juveniles display a large variety of individual, psychological and social problems. This variety of risk factors and personal characteristics complicates treatment planning. Insight into subgroups and specific profiles of problems in serious juvenile offenders is helpful in identifying important treatment indicators for each subgroup of serious juvenile offenders. Methods: To identify subgroups with combined offender characteristics, cluster-analyses were performed on data of 2010 adolescents from all juvenile justice institutions in the Netherlands. The study included a wide spectrum of static and dynamic offender characteristics and was a replication of a previous study, in order to replicate and validate the identified subgroups. To identify the subgroups that are most useful in clinical practice, different numbers of subgroup-solutions were presented to clinicians. Results: Combining both good statistical fit and clinical relevance resulted in seven subgroups. Most subgroups resemble the subgroups found in the previous study and one extra subgroups was identified. Subgroups were named after their own identifying characteristics: (1) sexual problems, (2) antisocial identity and mental health problems, (3) lack of empathy and conscience, (4) flat profile, (5) family problems, (6) substance use problems, and (7) sexual, cognitive and social problems. Conclusions: Subgroups of offenders as identified seem rather stable. Therefore risk factor scores can help to identify characteristics of serious juvenile offenders, which can be used in clinical practice to adjust treatment to the specific risk and needs of each subgroup.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017

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