Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Female Juvenile Offenders

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Abstract

Objective: While there is a growing body of evidence that psychopathology is common among incarcerated boys, relatively little is known about the prevalence and manifestations of mental health problems among incarcerated girls. This study examines the incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of 96 adolescent female offenders and its relation to socioemotional adjustment. Method: Self-report questionnaires were used to tap socioemotional adjustment, and a semistructured interview was conducted to determine PTSD symptomatology. Results: The results indicate that the rate of PTSD among incarcerated female delinquents not only is higher than that in the general population but surpasses the incidence of PTSD among incarcerated male delinquents. In addition, those who suffer from PTSD also tend to exhibit higher levels of distress and lower levels of self-restraint. Conclusions: These findings provide a starting point for more detailed investigations of the relations between trauma, psychopathology, and violence and suggest that the study of trauma may offer a new way of looking at links between victim and perpetrator.

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