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The Effects of Increased Prescribing of Psychotropic Drugs to Children and Adolescents on Trends in Juvenile Delinquency and Violence: Empirical Analysis Using State-Level Panel Data

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $38,274)

This project intends to test a possible explanation for the Great American Crime Decline of the 1990s and 2000s: the increasing rates at which psychotropic drugs are prescribed, especially to children and adolescents. Since children growing up in poverty are more likely to engage in violence, the increasing prescribing of psychotropic drugs to this group 1s hypothesized to lead to decreases in youth-perpetrated violence. Several nation-wide policy changes contributed to the trend of increasing prescribing of psychotropic medications to children and adolescents, especially the ones in low-income families. The objectives of the project are: 1) to assemble a unique and comprehensive data set, using state-level data from various publicly available sources, containing information about
trends in juvenile delinquency and violence, trends in psychotropic drug prescribing to children and adolescents, and various control variables associated with these two sets of trends; 2) to test the proposed hypotheses about the effect of increasing psychotropic medication prescribing to children and adolescents on juvenile delinquency and violence,
using the assembled data set; and 3) to disseminate the scientific knowledge gained
through this study among criminal justice researchers, psychiatric and public health
scientists, as well as among a wider audience of practitioners and the general public. Dr. Maria Tcherni at the University of New Haven proposes using a state-level panel data set including yearly measures (1990-2013) of the following: juvenile delinquency and violence, psychotropic drug prescribing to children and adolescents, and relevant control variables associated with these two sets of measures at the state level. Fixed effects panel data
analyses will be performed to estimate the relevant models. The project will create violent and nonviolent delinquency variables using Uniform Crime Report data on juvenile arrests stored by NACJD. These data will be complied yearly by state (for all states in the United States) for the period of 1990-2013. The main product of this project will be the new data set containing state-level information submitted to NIJ. Dr. Tcherni will produce academic manuscripts to be submitted for publication in top-tier peer-reviewed journals like Criminology, Pediatrics, Epidemiology, and Archives of General Psychiatry, and through academic conferences in the fields of criminology and psychology. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 11, 2014