Research Reports - Correlates of traumatic brain injury among juvenile offenders

Crim Behav Ment Health. 2014 Jan 15

Vaughn MG, Salas-Wright CP, Delisi M, Perron B

BACKGROUND: There is some evidence that antisocial individuals, including young
delinquents, are significantly more likely than people in the general population
to incur a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Extant studies are hampered by
methodological limitations, such as small sample sizes, lack of control for
confounding effects, and use of single sites and may lack representativeness.
HYPOTHESIS: The hypothesis for this study is that young offenders with a history
of TBI will not only be at higher risk of impulsivity and negative emotionality
than their non-injured peers but also that those with TBI will have had more
previous victimisation experiences.
METHODS: Data from two sites (Philadelphia, PA and Phoenix, AZ) in a substantial
longitudinal, prospective study - the Pathways to Desistance Study - were used to
compare young people (average age 16 years) who reported TBI with those who did
not. Independent variables were behavioural, criminogenic and psychosocial
measures.
RESULTS: Male youths were about twice as likely as young females to report TBI.
Such injury was associated with higher impulsivity and negative emotion ratings,
even after allowing for potentially confounding factors, including sex. In
addition, TBI was independently associated with self-reported experience of
victimisation.
CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: This extends the generalisability of earlier
suggestions of a relationship between TBI and offending, and various factors
thought likely to mediate the relationship. The implications are, thus, that it
is likely to be of practical value to screen young people who get into the
criminal justice system for a history of TBI, and thus to allow for more specific
tailoring of interventions to reduce the range of associated problems, including
likely reoffending.

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