Most Juvenile Delinquents Suffer Traumas

Posttraumatic stress disorder hits these kids hard, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, April 14, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Posttraumatic stress disorder is common among juvenile delinquents in the United States.

That finding comes in a Northwestern University study in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study of 900 juveniles, aged 10 to 18, at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center found that 93 percent of boys and 84 percent of girls reported at least one traumatic experience, such as witnessing violence or being threatened with a weapon.

More than 12 percent of the study subjects met the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder.

"While it's true that the study participants, like most juvenile detainees in the United States, live in urban areas that have high rates of violence, our findings also are consistent with research linking traumatic victimization in childhood and subsequent psychosocial problems, such as delinquency and drug use," Karen M. Abram, of the psycholegal studies program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues recommend that the mental health system needs to improve services for high-risk youth who are victims of trauma; improve the detection of posttraumatic stress disorder in juvenile detainees; and avoid re-traumatizing youth while they're in detention.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about posttraumatic stress disorder.

SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, April 2004

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