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Correlates of traumatic brain injury among juvenile offenders: A multi-site study

Publication Abstract

Vaughn, Michael G., Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Matt DeLisi, and Brian E. Perron. 2014. "Correlates of traumatic brain injury among juvenile offenders: A multi-site study." Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 24(3): 188-203.

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.

DOI:10.1002/cbm.1900 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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