Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice

By Vittoria Ardino | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven
Post-Traumatic Stress in Antisocial
Youth: A Multifaceted Reality

Vittoria Ardino


Introduction

Antisocial youth very often live in a milieu of risk where social exclusion and early traumatization are central features of their developmental trajectories. Research undertaken to investigate possible interconnections between trauma and criminal behavior shows a clear interaction between psychopathological outcomes and antisocial tendency (Abram et al., 2004; Cauffman et al., 1998; see also Foy and colleagues, Chapter 10, for a review).

In 1935, Aichhorn highlighted for the first time that trauma contributes to developmental disruptions across the lifespan. Twenty years later, Minuchin and Guerny (1967) emphasized that “a multitude of children in institutions, and urban ghettos, share thinking, coping, communicative, and behavioral styles that can be traced back to the family where they were born” (p. 193). In 1989, Widom and colleagues conducted a pioneering study on 900 children abused before age 11. The authors outlined more clearly the interaction between early trauma and antisocial conduct, reporting that such children are more at risk of arrest in adolescence (Maxfield & Widom, 1996). Nowadays, the work of Widom and colleagues is supported by a series of new studies that further demonstrate how antisocial adolescents who enter a criminal career very often have a history of serious victimization, and this history is often part of an intergenerational story of violence (Erwin et al., 2000; McGruder-Johnson et al., 2000; Scarpa, 2001).

Research on the impact of traumatic events has demonstrated that traumatic exposures seriously affect adolescents’ functioning (Erwin et al., 2000; McGruder-Johnson, et al., 2000); their behavior, emotions, and cognition

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