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NCJ Number: 210948 Find in a Library
Title: Trauma Exposure, Posttraumatic Stress, and Psychiatric Comorbidity in Female Juvenile Offenders
Journal: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  Volume:44  Issue:8  Dated:August 2005  Pages:798-806
Author(s): Angela Dixon Ph.D.; Pauline Howie Ph.D.; Jean Starling MPH
Date Published: August 2005
Page Count: 9
Document: DOC
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This Australian study profiled the nature and extent of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of 100 incarcerated female juvenile offenders (ages 13.5-19 years), examined the pattern and development of comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in young offenders with and without PTSD, and examined factors associated with a PTSD diagnosis in young offenders.
Abstract: The psychological profiles and trauma histories were assessed via a semistructured interview, and two self-report measures were used to assess family functioning and attributional style. High rates of PTSD were reported by 37 percent of the offenders, with sexual abuse constituting the traumatic event in 70 percent of the cases. Offenders with PTSD had significantly more comorbid diagnoses than those without PTSD. Seventy-three percent of comorbid diagnoses were concurrent with or after PTSD onset. The presence of four or more psychiatric diagnoses and a history of sexual abuse were independently associated with a diagnosis of PTSD among the sample. Although the cross-sectional design of this study limits causal conclusions, the findings suggest two possibilities that could be explored in future research. For some girls, trauma and PTSD may be predisposing factors for the development of other psychopathology; e.g., several of the offenders with PTSD reported using drugs as a means of blocking out the nightmares and flashbacks, which precipitated or escalated drug-related offending. For others, pre-existing psychopathology may predispose them to trauma exposure and PTSD development; e.g., the nature of comorbid conditions, such as conduct disorder and substance abuse, involve high-risk behaviors that could increase a young woman's vulnerability to trauma, such as violence and sexual abuse. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. 2 figures, 3 tables, and 33 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency factors
Index Term(s): Australia; Child Sexual Abuse; Female juvenile delinquents; Foreign criminal justice research; Juvenile mental health services; Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Sexual assault trauma
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