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Several studies have found that the juvenile offender population has higher rates of experiencing traumatic events that the general population of adolescents. It is approximated that 50% - 80% of adolescents involved with the juvenile justice system have experienced at least one traumatic event (Garbarino, 2001). Across disciplines, researchers generally agree that the risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system increases when a youth experiences a traumatic event (Maschi, 2006). The types of trauma experienced and reactions to trauma vary by gender, which requires examination. Little information is currently available in the literature regarding gender-specific treatment for trauma with the juvenile offender population, especially for males. The present study examined the relationship between clinically significant symptoms related to trauma, as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist For Children (TSCC), and gender in a sample of male and female juvenile offenders. This study also examined the relationship between gender and the decision to refer juvenile offenders for trauma-specific mental health treatment. This study included 250 participants, aged 13 - 16 years, with documented histories of experiencing at least one traumatic event, and valid profiles on the TSCC, as judged by the validity scales of the measure. This study utilized archival data and included exclusively a probation sample of youth. The sample was gathered from the Metrowest area of Massachusetts. The results indicate that female juvenile offenders are more likely to produce higher elevations on the Depression and Sexual Concerns scales of the TSCC, while male juvenile offenders are more likely to produce higher scores on the Anger scale. No significant differences were found by gender on the Anxiety, Dissociation or PTSD scales. Further, a Logistic Regression revealed that female juvenile offenders are more likely than males to be referred for trauma-related mental health treatment regardless of if they exhibit clinically significant trauma-related symptoms or not.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Georgios Lampropoulos, Professor Directing Dissertation; Daniel Mears, University Representative; James P. Sampson, Jr., Committee Member; Steven I. Pfeiffer, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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