PTSD, Trauma, and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth

This bulletin by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention examines the results of the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a prospective longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. The authors discuss their findings on the prevalence of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among juvenile detainees and PTSD’s tendency to co-occur with other psychiatric disorders.

Some findings include the following:

  • Of the study sample, 92.5 percent of youth had experienced at least one trauma, 84 percent had experienced more than one trauma, and 56.8 percent were exposed to trauma six or more times.
  • Witnessing violence, the most common trauma, was far more common in this study sample than in most community studies of youth and young adults.
  • More than 1 in 10 detainees had PTSD in the year prior to the interview.
  • Among participants with PTSD, 93 percent had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD.

Population of focus: Incarcerated or detained youth

Link to resource:

Date: 2012

Organization: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention