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Delinquency, Depression, and Substance Use Disorder Among Child Welfare-Involved Adolescent Females

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2014 Pages: 797-807
Marina Lalayants; Jonathan D. Prince
Date Published
April 2014
11 pages
Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a sample of 253 girls (ages 11-16) were studied to determine whether depression or substance use disorder (SUD) leads to delinquency or delinquency leads to depression and SUD.
The findings substantiate prior research that has linked delinquency to subsequent depression and SUD. The distinctive contribution of the current study is its linking of specific types of delinquent behavior (minor theft and public disorder) among females that significantly increase their risk for depression or SUD, after controlling for a wide variety of factors and after controlling for different types of delinquent acts. The study found that minor theft quadrupled the likelihood of adolescent depression among females after inclusion of control variables. Engaging in public disorder almost tripled the risk of SUD among adolescent females. The findings suggest that practitioners could address risk for depression and SUD among adolescent females by screening for overall delinquency or for specific types of delinquency (minor theft for depression and public disorder for SUD) and by providing intervention shown to be effective with adolescent females involved with the child welfare system. Data for this study were obtained through the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (Wave I: 2008-2009; Wave II: 18 months later). 3 tables, 2 figures, and 66 references