Loyola University Chicago proposes the project titled, Violence Exposure, Continuous Trauma, and Repeat Offending in Female and Male Serious Adolescent Offenders. Advocates of trauma-informed practices assert that disproportionately high rates of violence exposure and trauma symptoms exacerbate the delinquent and violent behavior of juvenile offenders. Although these assertions make intuitive sense, surprisingly, there is very little research examining trauma exposure and trauma symptoms as predictors of reoffending. Unfortunately, most existing research on this topic examines the long-term effects of trauma exposure and trauma symptoms assessed during baseline interviews only.
Beyond baseline interviews, juvenile offenders are often exposed to additional violence both during and after detainment, incarceration, or institutionalization. There is an urgent need for prospective research on serious juvenile offenders to understand both the prevalence and impact of continuous violence exposure in multiple settings on retraumatization, and subsequently on reoffending.
The proposed project aims to conduct secondary data analysis on data from the Pathways to Desistance Study to enhance understanding of: (1) the prevalence and longitudinal patterns of continuous trauma exposure (during and after justice involvement) and retraumatization in serious adolescent offenders; (2) continuous trauma exposure (during and after justice involvement) and retraumatization as predictors of reoffending in serious adolescent offenders; and (3) how demographic factors (gender, ethnicity, and violent versus nonviolent offender status) and emotional and cognitive factors (emotion regulation, callousness, and hopelessness) impact associations between continuous trauma exposure, retraumatization, and reoffending. The researchers plan to produce four manuscripts on these topics, and a social policy brief summarizing the implications of the findings across the four proposed manuscripts.
Understanding how continuous trauma exposure and retraumatization impact reoffending in serious juvenile offenders is of high priority. Research that informs trauma-informed, rehabilitative care for juvenile offenders will not only decrease the societal burden of incarceration, but also increase the life chances for one of our most vulnerable populations of youth.