Psychopathology in Juvenile Justice Youths: Demographic, Psychological, and Contextual Elements That Are Related to Violent Offending and Nonviolent Delinquency among Adolescents

By Rădulescu, Adina | Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Psychopathology in Juvenile Justice Youths: Demographic, Psychological, and Contextual Elements That Are Related to Violent Offending and Nonviolent Delinquency among Adolescents


Rădulescu, Adina, Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice


1. Introduction

This research is substantiated in the significant body of scholarship examining the extremely uneven pervasiveness of mental disorders among justiceinvolved youth, features related to risk for aggressive, nonaggressive, and general reoffending among young delinquents, and the possibility of harmful and violent conduct in juveniles. Applying novel conceptual and methodological approaches, this paper advances to the next level research on the relevance of advancing mental health services for young delinquents, the link between youthful trauma and mental health issues in justice-involved youth, and the connection between particular child abuse, oppression, and reoffending in young delinquents.

2. The Link between Childhood Physical Maltreatment and Ensuing Violent and Criminal Conduct in Juvenility

The significant degree of disorders in juvenile justice youths may have effects not only for clinical management, because mental health disorders are associated with recidivism (mental health issues are rampant and raise the possibility of reoffending). Mental health issues are more widespread in justice-involved youths than in community ones due to vulnerableness to traumatic episodes, e.g. childhood abuse, carelessness, or witnessing aggression. Vulnerableness to maltreatment and carelessness (Parkinson, 2016) may clarify the significant pervasiveness of psychiatric disorder in justice-involved youth. Adolescent-onset delinquents display offending behavior throughout juvenility and are less expected to have important individual issues or precarious family backgrounds. Deficiency in neurodevelopmental mechanisms and unsatisfactory family performance (Popescu Ljungholm, 2015; 2016) is more expected in the childhood-onset offenders. The latter may have undergone more traumatic episodes in early years than adolescent-onset ones, which is instrumental in their possibility of advancing mental health issues. (Hoeve et al., 2015)

Merely acquainting with the juvenile justice system is a robust sign of seemingly externalizing issues (e.g., hyperactivity, impulsivity, hostility), triggering psychosocial aspects, and unsatisfactory coping skills. Delinquency among youths is externalizing conduct associated with intrinsic inconsistencies (Robinson, 2015) within insufficiently advanced psychic arrangements and unsatisfied psychological demands (Henderson, 2016), in addition restricted by age and inexperience. Providing mental health services to young offenders presumably alleviates the risk for reoffending by remedying critical mental health issues, assisting the justice system in identifying and attending intrinsic psychopathology, enhancing coping skills (Pera, 2015), diminishing the adverse consequences of incarceration, and cutting down subsequent expenses to society (Nica et al., 2016) by decreasing reoffending. Mental healthcare doubtlessly diminishes reoffending by remedying intrinsic psychopathology (Janzen, 2016) and focusing on unsatisfied psychological demands; decreasing the youth's anxiety, embarrassment and annoyance from legal participation; and alleviating the consequences of the latter, e.g. discontinued school attendance, association with wrongdoing, and possible vulnerability to other threatening youths or adverse conducts. (Zeola et al., 2017)

Grave behavior issues comprising violent and harmful conducts that infringe the rights of other individuals or chief societal norms constitute a severe mental health and public policy interest. Only a subgroup of people who display prolonged disruptive and illegal conduct (Hodgson, 2015) exhibit raised degrees of psychopathic traits. Juveniles with behavior issues and nonnormative degrees of callous and unemotional (CU) traits are dissimilar from other youths with behavior issues (Nica, 2016a, b) by exhibiting flaws in the processing of abuse cues, by supporting more deviant social objectives (Peters, 2015a, b), and by displaying shortfalls in affective empathy. …

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