What Childhood Factors Contribute to Incarceration?
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Dear Writer,
We have compiled the following research to assist in your work concerning childhood factors that may contribute to adult incarceration.

Our prisons are overcrowded. Our criminal justice system strained. By studying what childhood factors may contribute to adult incarceration, perhaps it will help focus efforts on prevention of crime rather than on punishment. This body of research aims to provide the writer with a wide range of information regarding the various childhood factors that contribute to incarceration such as a child's mental health, parental influence, trauma and socioeconomic status.


Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder: ADD and ADHD are patterns of behaviour exhibited in school-aged children. These children are inattentive, overly impulsive, and in the case of ADHD, hyperactive. They have difficulty sitting still or attending to one thing for a long period of time, and may seem overactive.

Grohol, J. (2015, March 28). Attention Deficit Disorder. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/adhd/

Conduct Disorder: Conduct disorder is a psychiatric syndrome occurring in childhood and adolescence, and is characterized by a longstanding pattern of violations of rules and antisocial behavior. Symptoms typically include aggression, frequent lying, running away from home overnight and destruction of property.

Searight, R., Rottnek, F., & Abby, S. (2001). Conduct Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment in Primary Care. American Family Physician, 63(8). Retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0415/p1579.html

Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD): ODD is a condition in which a child displays an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, hostile, and annoying behaviour toward people in authority. The child's behaviour often disrupts the child's normal daily activities, including activities within the family and at school.

Grohol, J. (2013, May 1). Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/oppositional-defiant-disorder-symptoms/


We believe that you should read this study because it provides a clear correlation between childhood onset mental illness and incarceration in adult life. According to Odgers, et al., “Aggression, antisocial and delinquent behavior (sic) frequently result in the incarceration of a large number of young people…studies show a high prevalence of mental disorders among adolescents within the justice system” (26). This article discusses a body of research that shows that a majority of adolescents within the criminal justice system have one or more mental disorders including from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance use disorders. Interestingly, it is suggested that female juvenile offenders are more likely than boys to suffer from any one, or a combination of, these disorders. This study will be helpful in ascertaining the prevalence of mental health issues in those juvenile offenders already incarcerated, lending heavily to the supposition that childhood mental disorders are a major factor in the increased risk of incarceration as an adult and suggesting that, perhaps, rehabilitative interventions and medication may be a better alternative to incarceration.

Odgers, C. L., Burnette, M. L., Chauhan, P., Moretti, M. M., & Reppucci, N. D. (2005). Misdiagnosing the problem: Mental health profiles of incarcerated juveniles. Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, 14(1), 26-29. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/))]docview/620726333?accountid=15182

Personality Disorders


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In order to gain a better understanding of the correlation between adolescents with personality disorders and their increased risk of committing violent and unlawful acts, we suggest you read the following study done by Drs. Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen; Stephanie Kasen, John M. Oldham, Andrew E. Skodol, Judith S. Brook and Elizabeth Smailes, M. Phil. Johnson et al examined childhood personality disorders and their link to an increased risk of violent behaviour during adolescence and early adulthood using a sample of 717 youths (366 females, 351 males) over a period of ten years. Disorders were assessed in year one and year ten, while violent behaviour was assessed in years three and four and again in years eight, nine and ten. The study found that cluster A and cluster B personality disorders, as well as paranoid, narcissistic and passive-aggressive disorder (cluster c) may increase the risk for violence persisting into early adulthood. According to Cohen et al.:

“Our findings suggest that it may be appropriate to ascertain histories of violence among youths who have paranoid, narcissistic, or passive-aggressive personality disorders and to consider the possibility of a personality disorder diagnosis among youths with a history of violent behavior. It will be of interest for future re-search to investigate whether, by identifying and treating youths who have personality disorders and a history of violent behavior, it may be possible to prevent extreme acts of violence such as homicide from occurring” (1410).

The study will be useful in showing that adolescents with certain personality disorders are at an increased risk of committing violent, unlawful acts, including: arson and vandalism, breaking and entering, threats to injure others, initiation of physical fights, mugging or robbery, assault resulting in injury and violent acts against others; all acts that could lead to incarceration. By identifying these disorders in youth, and treating them effectively, there is a possibility that prevention may be an effective strategy in crime reduction.

Johnson, J., Cohen, P., Smailes, E., Kasen, S., Oldham, J., Skodol, A., & Brook, J. (2000). Adolescent Personality Disorders Associated With Violence and Criminal Behavior During Adolescence and Early Adulthood. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 1406-1412. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from researchgate.net [PDF]

While the conclusions drawn by the authors of this article relate more to how age should be incorporated into the diagnosis of personality disorders, we believe that the results also provide important data regarding the increased risk of incarceration as adults for children with conduct and other personality disorders which will be very useful in your writing. The objective of this study was to examine the co-occurrence of personality disorders and conduct disorder in a group of incarcerated juvenile offenders (11-17 years) and to raise the possibility of an antisocial personality disorder in children under 18 years of age (personality disorder is typically not diagnosed in persons under 18). The sample was small relative to other studies: 100 juvenile offenders were randomly selected and interviewed with both the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents – Revised and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders to establish psychiatric diagnosis. The result showed that 87% met the criteria for conduct disorder and among those, the only comorbid personality disorder that was present with frequency was antisocial personality disorder.

Eppright, Thomas D., et al. "Comorbidity of Conduct Disorder and Personality Disorders in an Incarcerated Juvenile Population."The American Journal of Psychiatry 150.8 (1993): 1233-6. ProQuest. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.

The ADHD Connection?

Another important finding that may be useful in your research on childhood factors contributing to adult incarceration is the following study related to the risk of criminality in children with ADHD. Mannuzza, et al. conducted a study to investigate the relationship between adult criminality in white males and childhood ADHD, without the comorbidity of conduct disorder. The group was assessed at ages 18 and 25 by clinicians who did not know of their childhood diagnosis of ADHD. Another, non-ADHD group was used as a comparison group. At 38 years of age, lifetime arrest records were obtained for the groups. The results showed that there were significantly more arrests, convictions and incarcerations for those in the ADHD group than those in the non-ADHD group. Those with ADHD had a greater risk of developing antisocial and substance use disorders in adolescence which increased the risk of criminal behaviour in adolescence and adulthood. The study found that children with ADHD, without comorbid conduct disorder, have a significantly increased risk for criminality in adulthood, only if they develop an antisocial or substance use disorder in adolescence. Those who did not develop those disorders had similar criminality rates than those in the non-ADHD group. As long as children with ADHD do not develop a comorbid antisocial or substance use disorder, their risk of incarceration as adults remain similar to that of unaffected children. You should note that the authors specified that other factors which may contribute to criminality, such as socioeconomic status, were not taken into account in this study.

Mannuzza, S., Klein, R. G., & Moulton,John L., I.,II. (2008). Lifetime criminality among boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A prospective follow-up study into adulthood using official arrest records. Psychiatry Research,160(3), 237-246. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2007.11.003

Brain Injury


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Another interesting childhood factor contributing to adult incarceration to consider when preparing your paper is brain injury, particularly injury to the frontal lobe. This chapter, in A. Damasio’s “Ever Since Feelings” provides an example of a young lady who, at fifteen months old, was hit by a car and sustained a head injury but appeared to have made a quick, full recovery. Her behaviour, up until about the age of three, appeared normal in relation to her siblings; however, she developed behaviour that was so disruptive her parents placed her in treatment facility. She fell behind in school, although very capable. She did not comply with rules and had many verbal and physical confrontations with others. She lied, stole from other children and her family, and was arrested numerous times for shoplifting. She became promiscuous, and a mother by eighteen. Even after the child was born, she was unable to be sensitive to the child’s needs. She could not hold a job as she was undependable and violated work rules. She could not express guilt, remorse or sympathy. Medication and therapy did not help her and she became dependant on her parents and social agencies for support. It was only after an MRI that Damasio found that she had damage to the prefrontal cortex, comparable to that in adult patients with similar issues. Damasio is not stating that all children with similar behaviour as this patient have undiscoverecd brain damage; however, it can be drawn from the data that many people with similar behaviour may have comparable injury or malfunction to the pre-frontal cortex.

Damasio compares this patient to his adult patients with similar behaviour patterns, all with comparable brain injuries, only difference being is that this patient suffered her injury as a child. The injury had the same effect on an adolescent as it did on adults. Damasio’s text is important in understanding how brain injury has an effect on behaviour and how that behaviour may result in actions that are criminal and lead to incarceration.

Damasio, A. (2003). Ever Since Feeings. In Looking for Spinoza: Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain (pp. 152-155). Orlando, Fla.: Harcourtswc



It is important that you consider reading this chapter of Mauer's book because it will show the scope of how disproportionate distribution of incarceration is among African Americans and Hispanics compared to other racial groups. Mauer writes,

“Imagine that you are a pregnant mother at your first meeting of a childbirth class in Harlem or the eastside of Detroit or South Central Los Angeles. All nine members of the class are African American who, coincidentally, are expecting boys. After a general interview regarding what to expect of pregnancy and childbirth, the teacher tells you all that she also has some news regarding the future of your children – 3 out of 9 of your boys will spend time in prison” (130)

The probability of an African American boy’s likelihood of going to prison is 3 in 9. They have an astonishing seven times greater chance of being incarcerated than do whites, while Hispanic males have a 1 in 6 chance and white males have a 1 in 23 chance of serving time. These staggering statistics will make you question whether such correlation exists due personal agency or systematic discrimination, judicial prejudice, and social marginalization within American society.

To answer these questions, we recommend reading In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, by Fillip Bourgois.

Mauer, M. (1999). African Americans and the Criminal Justice System. In Race to incarcerate(pp. 132-141). New York: New York


Thomas p. Bonczar, “prevalence of Imprisonment in the United States Population 1974-2001, “Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is the United States “primary source for criminal justice statistics” and is an accurate source that is used to disperse information on crime. This site gives insight to incarcerations and the effect it has specifically on African Americans, Hispanics and Aboriginals. It raises awareness to incarcerations in the United States and who is likely to be imprisoned. In America “1 of every 20 persons (5%) can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime. The lifetime chances of a person going to prison are higher for men (9%) than for women (1%) and higher for blacks (16%) and Hispanics (9%) than for whites (2%)”.

Allen, J Beck. Thomas, P Bonczar. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1042

The following book, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, by Fillip Bourgois is an ethnographic study of the inner-city drug trade in East Harlem community. We believe that it will help you develop a deeper understanding of the scope of how race, class, gender, and social-structural constrains contribute to creating the problems of the inner-city ghetto. The nature of ethnographies is that they give you a hermeneutic and qualitative perspective on the topic that surveys, hypothesis and statistical analysis can never achieve. In this book, you will gain insight into the obstacles crack sellers face as they seek to earn a living. Bourgois shares with us intimate portrayal of the lives of Primo, Caesar, Luis, Tony, and Candy as they are faced with a dilemma - to accept a legitimate but minim-wage jobs and experience subjugation and disrespect from the middle and upper classes, or illegal, fast money job and gain the respect (usually through violence) within their own community. Bourgois suggests that the street culture based on violence and drug selling within inner cities has emerged as a form of resistance movement to regain autonomous personal dignity. However, this ultimately has become an active agent in their personal and community ruin, resulting in violence and further crime. This ethnography will further help you put into perspective the role of personal agency, social influence, and resistance in the issue of incarceration.

Bourgois, P. (1995). In search of respect: Selling crack in El Barrio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


We believe this article is very informative to what childhood factors lead to incarceration. Pettit and Western seek the cause of increase crime and its possible correlation with poverty. Initially, they attempt to determine the correlation between poverty and crime by using “the different levels of education between whites and black men “ (151) concluding who is more likely to go to prison with that use of surveys and graphs. Pettit and Western conclude that “the slim economic opportunities and turbulent living conditions of young disadvantaged and black men may lead them to crime”(152). Though they don’t specify the amount of African American men likely to participate in criminal behaviour, they are able to finalize that African Americans who lived in impoverished areas are more likely to commit crimes. They also mention that several racial groups are likely to commit crimes due to the inability to accept their disadvantage to the contribution of society (151).

Pettit, B., & Western, B. (2004). Mass imprisonment and the life course: Race and class inequality in U.S. incarceration. American Sociological Review, 69(2), 151-169. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/218798956?accountid=15182

It is really important that you read this article because it talks about the effect family poverty, school and neighbourhood poverty has on the development of children. D’Aoust references research that poverty has on the academic success of a child and “suggests that the timing and duration of poverty has significant impact” (8) on the effect of poverty being detrimental to the child. She also speaks about the important role of family and how supportive they need to be to help a child be aware of his/her unfortunate events but still strive to beat the odds and avoid incarceration

D'Aoust, R. F. (2008). The impact of early childhood poverty on academic achievement and the influence of supportive parenting(Order No. AAI3314677). Available from PsycINFO. (621751093; 2008-99210-473). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/621751093?accountid=15182

A local source indicates instructive information about the vast amount of people in jail who have not completed an education, live in poverty with an income of less than $10,000 and hints the correlation to crime and, as a result, incarceration. As a consequence, Segal attempts to introduce a method that will resolve a poverty and thus initiate a decline prison populations. Despite the fact there is no direct correlation between the two variables poverty and incarceration, studies show that many people who engage in criminal activity live in poverty.

Segal, H. (2011, February 20). Tough on poverty, tough on crime | Toronto Star. Retrieved April 8, 2015.


Consider reading this article that determines the effects of parental incarceration on children. Ventura and Burns “examine the associations between paternal incarceration during childhood and health, educational and economic outcomes in young adult hood” (Ventura, Barnes 2014). They found that there are several negative outcomes that result from a parental incarceration that influence the chance of mental health problems as well as assist in drop-outs, drug abuse and “academic underperformance”. It illustrates the importance parental incarceration has on a child’s education and psychological and social factors that affect the child in the long run.

Miller, H. V., & Barnes, J. C. (2015). The association between parental incarceration and health, education, and economic outcomes in young adulthood. American Journal of Criminal Justice, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12103-015-9288-4


If you want to understand the effect on children with an incarcerated father, examine this article by Swisher and Roettger in their endeavour to find the effect on children. They attempt to determine the outcome of a child whose father is incarcerated by using the Cambridge study and conclude a review by Murray and Farrginton that parental incarceration is a “strong risk factor and possible cause for a range of adverse outcomes for children, including anti-social behaviour, offending, mental health problems, drug abuse, school failure and unemployment” (135). As a result they found depression and delinquency do not differ by racial group or gender. One irregularity they established was that Hispanics who have an incarcerated biological father has a higher tendency of delinquency than black and whites (597).

Swisher, R. R., & Roettger, M. E. (2012). Father's incarceration and youth delinquency and depression: Examining differences by race and ethnicity. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 22(4), 597-603. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2012.00810.x

We suggest you view this website that offers important parentless statistics that lead up to incarceration during childhood. It provides accurate statistics of families in the US. This site aims to protect families from court systems, giving insight to readers of astonishing statistics and heavy influence single parenting has on children. Though these statistics do not demonstrate a direct correlation that leads to imprisonment, consequently each statistic listed below is a contributive factor to incarceration. The correlation between single parents and crime is still a controversial topic, studies have proved that “fatherless or motherless households” are likely to “breed violence”. The following source indicated concluded that 85% of children that display behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes and 71% of all high school drop come from fatherless homes as well.

Parentless Statistics. (2012, October 1). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from http://www.fclu.org/parentless-statistics/


Parental Incarceration

Female vs. Male Statistics: US Department of Justice: The US Department of Justice (1994) found that for women in state prison’s 46.6% had a caregiver who had at one time been incarcerated. For further clarification on these statistics I recommend you look towards another article provided by the US Department of Justice stated that 56% of the women in state prison had a family member (rather than just parent) who was in prison during their childhood. The same study found that 49% of men in state prison had a family member who had been incarcerated. These results seem to suggest that women are likely to be more affected developmentally by an incarcerated parent (2008). These statistics are useful in figuring out where intervention is needed in terms of parental care with missing parents.

The Effects of Age

Denise Johnston is the co-editor of the first book-length study, done in California, on the topic of incarcerated parents titled “Children of Incarcerated Parents”. Through her years of study she came out with many studies on the topic; especially related to the age issue she did studies based on specific age groups and how parental incarceration affects each. I feel that much of her work would benefit you in researching this topic. For example one study looked at 100 women in a California jail and noted that 10% of the women’s children had been incarcerated (Johnston, 2006). Another study done only a year later, also in a women’s prison, limited their results by using only children ages 11-14 and found that 29% of the women’s children had been incarcerated (Johnston, 1992). Johnston also found in another study that when a child is separated from their parent also plays a major role. This is based on developmental theories that link childhood development as the basis for adulthood. Johnston (1995) said that children 2-6 are most impacted by parental incarceration for two reasons: 1) Children of this age spend the most time at home are likely to either witness the crime or witness the arrest both of which can be sources of immense stress for the child as they are developing morals and the feelings of shame and guilt, and 2) Children at this age have not created a confident self-concept and therefore do not completely separate themselves from their parents and see threats and injuries of the parent as “injuries or threats to themselves” (p.73). All of these studies and their results aid in understanding the effects that age and maturity have on a child of incarcerated parents and can help in targeting ages of intervention to prevent future incarceration.

Johnston, D. (2006). The Wrong Road: Efforts To Understand The Effects Of Parental Crime And Incarceration. Criminology & Public Policy, 5(4), 703-719.
Gabel, K., & Johnston, D. (1995). Jailed Mothers. In Children of incarcerated parents. New York, New York: Lexington Books.
Johnston, D. (1992). Children of Offenders. Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents.

Maternal vs. Paternal Imprisonment

Important in studying the affects of parental incarceration on the child is understanding the differing outcomes between mother and father. For further reading into this topic I reccommend looking into the book "Prisoners Once Removed" by Travis and Waul. The book “Prisoners Once Removed” (Travis & Waul, 2003) looks at many affected parts of an incarcerated individuals life, including community, family, and children. Particularly the book looks at the difference in arrest rates of children/adolescents depending on whether they had a missing mother or father due to incarceration. The study found that of the youth with incarcerated mothers, 30% would have been arrested by the age 18. Similarly it was found that 50% of those with fathers incarcerated would have been arrested by the age 18 (p. 143). This book is useful to the research topic because it introduces new types of empirical research and provides implications for crime policies including innovative programs that are proving to be effective at reducing crime and reintegrating offenders to families.

Travis, J., & Waul, M. (2003). Prisoners once removed: The impact of incarceration and reentry on children, families, and communities. Washington, D.C: Urban Institute Press.

Present Day Context and Policies

Much of the literature bases the correlation found in the research on feelings such as shame or guilt relating to the incarceration, or the stigma attached to having an incarcerated parent, and the reactions that stem from this incarceration. Because childhood is seen in most areas of psychology as an important time for development it is important that these children’s feelings of shame, guilt, or exclusion from the “normal” parent-child relationship be prevented or dealt with in healthy ways. I recommend looking at a modern modern example of an approach to the issue is being featured in an online teaching kit called, “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.” The popular children’s show Sesame Street has introduced a new character who has an incarcerated parent and aims to show children in the same situation they are not alone and to also educate children on the subject to avoid future stigma.

Sesame Street . (2013). Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration. [Online Video]. 12 June. Available from: http://downloads.cdn.sesame.org/ss/multi-bitrate/05200070063MP4/05200070063MP4_HD750K.mp4. [Accessed: 08 April 2015].
Bridges, B. (1972). Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 17(4), 531-579.

Parental Mental Illness

Adoption of Behaviours

Feelings of Inferiority and Deprivation: Parents with mental illness have been studied to have children with feelings of inferiority and deprivation. I reccommend looking to the online psychology website "Reading Craze". In one online article in the magazine “ReadingCraze” the issue of psychological problems in parents and its connection to juvenile delinquency is linked to a different type of reaction by the child. Rather than adopting the behaviours of the parent “psychological problems like depression, frustration, aggression or hyper behavior showed by the parents can make the child feel deprived and inferior among friends.” The theory is that the feeling of inferiority or the idea that they’re missing something that other adolescents have can cause risky or delinquent behaviours which can of course lead to incarceration if the behaviours continue into adulthood.

Causes and Solutions of Juvenile Delinquency. (2013, March 15). ReadingCraze.

Feelings of Inferiority and Deprivation

In the same online article in the magazine “ReadingCraze” they link the issue of psychological problems in parents and its connection to juvenile delinquency to a different type of reaction by the child. The magazine researches topics of all kind, a specific category being psychology. According to the article rather than adopting the behaviours of the parent “psychological problems like depression, frustration, aggression or hyper behavior showed by the parents can make the child feel deprived and inferior among friends.” The theory is that the feeling of inferiority or the idea that they’re missing something that other adolescents have can cause risky or delinquent behaviours which can of course lead to incarceration if the behaviours continue into adulthood. It would be useful for your research to read both sections of this article.

Parental Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The US Department of justice has introduced a yearly profile of jail inmates that would be beneficial for your research. The article states that "31% of jail inmates grew up with a parent or guardian who abused alcohol or drugs." (p. 1). Using these statistics is important in your research in order to ensure the inclusion of such a seemingly important variable.

U.S. Department of Justice. (2004, July). Profile of jail inmates. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pji02.pdf

Parental Abuse

Another statistic provided by the U.S Department of justice states the link between parental abuse and future childhood incarceration. The U.S Department of Justice released a “Profile of Jail Inmates” in 2002 that stated that 18% of all inmates said they had been physically or sexually abused before their most recent admission to prison. Among the abused women 26% had been abused by a parent or guardian. Among the abused men 60% had been abused by a parent or guardian. I recommend this profile because parental abuse is not only a large issue, but also because it relates to your topic.

U.S. Department of Justice. (2004, July). Profile of jail inmates. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pji02.pdf

For further research into parental abuse I recommend looking into the research done by The Canadian Population Health Initiative. The Canadian Population Health Initiative found that youth who experienced parental rejection defined as “inconsistent application of rules and punishment by parents” were more likely to act out sometimes and often in aggressive ways. It was also found that youth who experienced punitive parenting defined as “parents who often yelled, threatened to hit them or did not solve problems with them” were more likely to act out aggressively. These findings could also provide support for why certain children are more likely to be incarcerated. If a youth is taught to act out they are more likely to participate in illegal and or aggressive behaviors.

Canadian Population Health Initiative. (2008). Improving the Health of Canadians. Retrieved from: https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cmha.ca%2Fdownload.php%3Fdocid%3D44&ei=3K4pVcGRI46iyATe0IC4DQ&usg=AFQjCNHLP9TOJnPa2G497XRXerNHUs4ilA&sig2=Oa1H2fi--dCZ9IT6e9_2zw&bvm=bv.90491159,d.aWw


The Role of Bullying

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Victims of Bullying

Another childhood factor leading to delinquency that we believe you should consider is bullying. We chose this particular article because it presents a disturbing picture of the potential impact of bullying on violence. On page 3, Wong and Schonlau follow up on a school shooting incident on April, 1999 which resulted in the death of 12 students. A subsequent investigation by the U.S Secret Service of 37 incidents of school shootings across 26 states reported that nearly 65% of school shooters "felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others…. a number of attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was longstanding and severe." This article then goes through countless studies that show the relationship between bullying victimization and delinquency and aggression. It shows the how frequent schoolyard peer-harassment can not only result with victims developing an overwhelming desire to punish their harassers, but also have detrimental consequences on the victims' mental health and elevate delinquent problem behaviours.

Wong, J. S., & Schonlau, M. (2013). Does bully victimization predict future delinquency?: A propensity score matching approach. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 40(11), 1184-1208. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0093854813503443

The Bully

We recommend this article by Sigfusdottir, Gudjonsson and Sigurdsson because it gives you insight into why bullies become aggressive. The authors found that anger is a very important component to bullying. Children who are abused have one of two ways of dealing with it: they become either depressed or angry. Depressed children later on become suicidal, and are most susceptible to being bullying victims, while angry children are the ones who resort to bullying. This article, will help you understand how bullying adversely affects both the bully and the victim in becoming delinquent. The authors follow a study that shows that although both groups are more likely to commit property crimes and assaults, those who were bullying have a higher chance of becoming delinquent later in their adult life.

Sigfusdottir, I. D., Gudjonsson, G. H., & Sigurdsson, J. F. (2010). Bullying and delinquency. the mediating role of anger.Personality and Individual Differences, 48(4), 391-396. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2009.10.034

The Role of Childhood Trauma

The Parallel of Childhood Trauma to ODD and Conduct Disorder

If you want to understand the pathways in which children become delinquent, then we strongly recommend that you read the first 40 pages of Suerette's dissertation. Suerette has found a parallel between delinquent behaviour and the frequency and extent of trauma experienced in childhood. She introduces a few commonly recognized psychological disorders, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ ADHD), and shows us how they derive out of childhood trauma which has developed into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By reading this article, you will gain insight into how cognitive distortions that occur in a child after exposure to extreme trauma influence them to become oppositional towards adults and authority figures. Furthermore, you will understand the full extent trauma has on the child's social, cognitive and emotional development, resulting with onset of memory and learning difficulties such as ADHD, abnormal alarm, heightened sensitivity to stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Left unaddressed, it can escalate into adulthood where oppositional behaviour can lead to lasting consequences socially, legally, occupationally, and psychologically.

Surette, I. H. (2002). An exploratory study of the effects of trauma and fear on school-aged children identified as oppositional defiant disordered by parents or teachers (Order No. AAI3037367). Available from PsycINFO. (619968883; 2002-95012-269). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/619968883?accountid=1 5182

We believe that you would further benefit from understanding exactly what happens inside a child's brain in the event of trauma, and how this impacts their development and mental health.
The following article by Lipschitz, Morgan, & Southwick discusses just that. Here, the authors reveal how PTSD alters the child's undeveloped autonomic and central nervous system and warn us how these changes can result with permanent neurological abnormalities, developmental delays, learning difficulties, and impulsive/aggressive and hyper-vigilant behaviour. The authors go into detail in explaining exactly what happens. Although it is a challenging read, it will show you the parallels between ODD and PTSD on a neurological level. Ultimately, it can help explain why many victimized children who develop PTSD go misdiagnosed as ADHD, and without proper intervention or medication become oppositional defiant. It suggests that childhood is a very fragile time in which when something goes wrong, extensive psychiatric and medical intervention will be needed later in life. If the PTSD is left unaddressed, these children may grow up developing a more serious conduct disorder, and engage in a lifelong deviant behaviour.

Lipschitz, D. S., Morgan,Charles A., I.,II, & Southwick, S. M. (2002). Neurobiological disturbances in youth with childhood trauma and in youth with conduct disorder. Trauma and juvenile delinquency: Theory, research, and interventions. (pp. 149-174) Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press/The Haworth Press, Binghamton, NY. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/619965175?accountid=15182

We believe that you might find this research report published by the Center for Mental Health Schools at UCLA useful, as it gives you a concise list of the kinds of traumatic events in a child's life and the consequences these factors have on the child's development, behaviour, mental health, and day-to-day functioning. In addition to direct victimization, such as physical and sexual abuse, parental neglect and domestic violence, this report includes other factors such as exposure to community violence, social marginalization, poverty, family isolation, among many others. What we find particularly interesting in this report is that it shows how children can develop PTSD without being direct victims of aggression. Children who witness violence can sympathetically acquire trauma and produce similar behaviour found in individuals who are recipients of violence. You would find this addition particularly useful in making the correlation between trauma and other social-economic factors that influence youth in engaging in delinquent behaviour.

Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. (2008). Classifying Conduct and Behavior Problems: Keeping the Environment in Perspective as a Cause of Commonly Identified Psychosocial Problems. In Conduct and Behavior Problems Related to School Aged Youth(Research Report). (pp. 1-19). Los Angeles. Retrieved from http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu

We believe that you would further benefit from learning how the age of the child undergoing a trauma influences the extent the adverse effects the trauma will have in the individual.
This is important to your research because it can show the full extent of the consequences of trauma and victimization has on the child. Thomson's research reveals how trauma experienced in early childhood has the most adverse effects as it disrupts the key developmental processes, such as executive functions, secure attachments and interpersonal relationships. She goes into detail explaining why young children are also more vulnerable to the adverse effects of victimization than older children who have already developed certain developmental and emotional coping skills that derail them from acting out after tragic events. Her research is significant to your topic because, the more we understand about childhood trauma, the more successful our intervention methods will be. This article will show you how the child's age at the time of the traumatic experience, frequency and the extent of the trauma, determines the severity of their delinquent behaviour. It also foreshadows the extent of rehabilitation methods that will be needed for healing to occur.

Thompson, E. L.Childhood trauma and juvenile delinquency: Does timing of posttraumatic stress disorder mediate the association? thesis] Available from PILOTS: Published International Literature On Traumatic Stress; ProQuest Sociology Collection. (1023528578; 93376). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/1023528578?accountid=15182


We chose this article because we believe that that you would be interested in learning about some of the interventions available for youth who have developed ODD, PTSD and conduct disorder. This article is written by three highly credible doctors who advocate interventions in a form of medication in conjunction with individual, family, group and behavioural therapies: Dr. Searright holds a doctorate in psychology, and is a director of behavioral medicine in the Family Medicine of St. Louis Residency Program; Dr. Rottnek holds a medical degree and is physician coordinator for Community Health in Partnership Services (CHIPS) clinics; and Dr. Abby is a clinical pharmacist on the faculty at the Family Medicine of St. Louis Residency Program.

Searight, Rottnek and Abby suggest a list of pharmacotherapy, such as stimulants, anti-depressants, lithium, anticonvulsants, and clonidine to help alleviate some of the aggressiveness, impulsivity, and anxiety associated with ODD and conduct disorder. This article helps explain how medication can help balance the neurochemical abnormalities found in ODD, PTSD and conduct disorder, and improve the child's capacity to benefit from other psychosocial interventions. We believe that early intervention is a very important component in your study because, if delinquency is an issue of child's mental health, then perhaps rehabilitative interventions and medication are a better alternative to incarceration.

Searight, R., Rottnek, F., & Abby, S. (2001). Conduct Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment in Primary Care. American Family Physician, 63(8). Retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0415/p1579.html

This is another article that you might find useful in learning about the available intervention methods for children with PTSD, ODD and Conduct Disorder. You would find it particularly interesting because it addresses why conduct disordered children have been reported to be resistant to treatment. Green believes that this is because traditional therapy does not address the post traumatic event that lead to the disorder. Very young children who have undergone a traumatic experience lack the vocabulary or verbal skills to discuss their trauma. Also, extreme stress has adverse neurobiological effects on the child's development, and as you have learned from previous articles, results with delayed or regressed cognitive functioning, onset learning disabilities, impulsive/inattentive/aggressive and non-compliant behaviors. You would learn from this article how play, music, and art therapy can be used in treating trauma associated with childhood disorders. Green suggests that creative therapy works because it allows children to process their trauma in indirect ways.
This research gives us hope that early interventions can reverse the adverse effects trauma has on child's development and mental health. By expressing and releasing their trauma, these children can move on to becoming successful individuals who have positive contribution to society.

Green, A. (2011). Art and music therapy for trauma survivors. Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, 24(2), 14-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/916529860?accountid=15182


We hope that the above information is useful in your research. According to the information compiled, it appears that there is not one specific childhood factor that contributes to incarceration as adults, but rather, a combination of multiple factors.

This video, prepared by Navos Mental Health Solutions, although promotional in nature, has information concerning children's mental health and on children receiving treatment for mental health issues. We thought it would be fitting to use this video to conclude as it pulls together some of the issues mentioned in a compassionate, real way.

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