Assessing the impact of trauma exposure in juvenile offenders using the rias and tscc
Ray, Zoe Elizabeth
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Adolescents involved with the juvenile justice system are significantly more likely to endorse history of childhood maltreatment and other forms of complex trauma. Trauma exposure is associated with a variety of detrimental symptoms, including higher mental health disorder, cognitive deficit, and learning and memory problems than the general population. Adolescence represents a critical period in cognitive development, which is negatively impacted by trauma exposure. Experience of trauma is associated with neurological changes as well as deficits in learning and memory, verbal ability, and executive function. This study investigated the impact of trauma exposure and trauma symptomology on cognitive functioning in juvenile offenders. Participants included adolescents referred by the juvenile court for psychological evaluation. Results of the statistical analyses revealed no relationship between self-report of trauma and endorsement of trauma symptoms on the TSCC. Adolescents who reported history of sexual abuse/rape scored significantly lower on the RIAS Composite Memory Index. Significant correlations were identified between performance on the RIAS and scores on the TSCC. Elevated score on the TSCC Overt Dissociation scale predicted higher performance on the RIAS Verbal Intelligence Index, while elevated score on the TSCC Depression scale predicted higher performance on both the RIAS Nonverbal Intelligence Index and Composite Intelligence Index. In contrast, adolescents with higher TSCC Hyperresponse scale performed significantly worse on the RIAS Composite Memory Index. Overall, 52% of participants reported history of trauma, with females significantly more likely to endorse trauma experience than male offenders. These findings highlight unique challenges that trauma-exposed youth experience related to cognitive functioning and trauma symptomology.