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Exposure to Violence, Trauma, and Juvenile Court Involvement: A Longitudinal Analysis of Mobile Youth and Poverty Study Data (1998-2011)

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2019
182 pages
This report presents the methodology, findings, and justice-system policy implications of a study with the objectives of 1) gaining a better understanding of how traumatic events increase the risk of juvenile justice involvement, 2) identifying developmental points where interventions can be effective in reducing this risk, and 3) identifying types of intervention likely to be effective with these adolescents.
The study linked data from multiple sources that included longitudinal survey responses, juvenile court records, and school records. The data pertained to approximately 8,000 adolescents living in impoverished neighborhoods in Mobile, Alabama, between 1998 and 2011. The study used a prospective population-based design. Study results indicate that exposure to violence (either or both witnessing it and being a victim) influences juvenile court involvement for adolescents who live in extreme and concentrated poverty. Psychological adjustment and academic progress partially mediated the link between exposure to violence and the severity of court outcome. The mediating effects of psychological adjustment affected boys and girls differently; however, these differences were not consistent across types of psychological adjustment. The study also found that the mediating effects of psychological maladjustment differed as a function of age, but these differences were not consistent across types of psychological adjustment. These findings suggest that interventions to address the adverse outcomes associated with exposure to violence among youth living in poverty should occur in multiple domains. These include policy-making by governmental and quasi-governmental bodies, neighborhood community- building programs, school policies and programs, family services, and individualized therapeutic treatment. Interventions in all these domains should be guided by and subjected to evaluations that provide evidence of effectiveness and guide reforms. 57 figures, 24 tables, and appended supplementary data

Date Published: July 1, 2019