Differential impact of trauma on recidivism among juvenile offenders
Perkins, Amy Michelle
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A significant amount of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have experienced childhood a traumatic event or been exposed to trauma and the mental health consequences of such events may have assisted in the development of the mental health and behavioral problems that resulted in juvenile court involvement. Additionally, within the juvenile justice population, there has been a current trend toward increase recidivism rates. This study examined the relationship between trauma exposure and recidivism rates in a sample of juvenile offenders. Results of the statistical analyses suggest that there are not significant differences between the rates of recidivism of juvenile offenders with a history of trauma and those without. It was determined that there are significant differences between the rates of recidivism between male and female offenders when both have experienced trauma exposure, with males experiencing higher rates of recidivism. It was also found that there are differences between recidivism rates in males who have been exposed to trauma and male offenders who have not been exposed to trauma. It was determined that there are significant differences between the rates of recidivism when the second offense is a felony offense in a group of juvenile offenders with a history of trauma. The clinical implications of this study highlight the importance of assessing for trauma history several months after a juvenile enters into the juvenile justice system, and not just upon initial entry. The goal for mental health clinicians should be to identify formative experiences and ways of coping that developed as a result of suffering trauma (including the trauma of entering into the juvenile justice system), not to determine mental health diagnoses or issues.