Trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress, and comorbidities in female adolescent offenders: findings and implications from recent studies

Foy, David W.; Ritchie, Iya K.; Conway, Alison H.
January 2012
European Journal of Psychotraumatology;2012, Vol. 3, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: While males constitute the majority, female adolescent offenders are a sizeable minority of the overall delinquent population. Further, those females who become involved in delinquent activities appear to be doing so at a younger age, and they are involved in a wide range of criminal activities, including violent offenses. Objective: The goal of this article is to consolidate an empirical base for our current knowledge about female juvenile offenders' trauma-related mental health and rehabilitation issues. Method: We searched for studies using PILOTS, PsycLIT, PsycINFO, and EBSCOhost electronic databases. Results: Accordingly, we present a review of findings from 33 recent studies showing consistently high rates of trauma exposure, PTSD, and common comorbidities among female adolescent offenders. We also examined recent literature on risk and protective factors for female delinquency, as well as treatments for offenders, and found that there was some early representation of trauma and PTSD as important variables to be considered in etiology and treatment. Conclusion: Future plans for addressing the mental health needs of female offenders should be better informed by these recent findings about widespread trauma exposure and related psychological consequences.


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