U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

A Longitudinal Investigation of Trauma Exposure, Retraumatization, and Post-Traumatic Stress of Justice-Involved Adolescents

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $74,395)

The University of Maryland proposes the project titled, A Longitudinal Investigation of Trauma Exposure, Retraumatization, and Post-Traumatic Stress of Justice-Involved Adolescents. The strong link between trauma exposure and delinquency is a recurring research finding. Justice-involved adolescents experience disproportionately high rates of trauma exposure. Furthermore, practices and conditions commonly observed in detention facilities may continue to expose previously traumatized youth to further trauma or abuse, resulting in retraumatization. Despite concerted attention to the issue of trauma exposure among justice-involved adolescents, critical questions remain regarding the impact of justice involvement on the likelihood of retraumatization and the development of posttraumatic stress (PTS) among justice-involved adolescents.

The proposed research will provide a scientific basis for policy-making, program planning, and targeting service delivery by juvenile justice service providers by increasing understanding of: (1) the prevalence of trauma and/or retraumatization in justice-involved youth; (2) the impact and cumulative effect of multiple forms of trauma (e.g., child abuse, domestic violence); (3) the impact of the timing (i.e., youth age), duration, and conditions of incarceration on trauma exposure and PTS; and (4) the potential mitigating effects of services and treatment for youth.

The sample of the proposed study is 1,354 participants of the Pathways to Desistance Study, a longitudinal investigation of the transition from adolescence to adulthood of delinquent youth. All participants were adolescents found guilty of a serious offense in juvenile or adult court in Philadelphia and Phoenix. Subsequent to baseline assessment, 10 waves of interviews of study participants were conducted over a seven year period. The average age of the study participants at baseline assessment was 16.04 years old (SD = 1.14). Ethnicity of the sample was comprised of 41.4% African American, 33.5% Hispanic, 20.2% Caucasian, 2% Native American, and approximately 3% of the sample reported their ethnicity as biracial or as other. The gender distribution of the sample was 86.4% male and 13.6% female.

The proposed study will use latent class analyses to estimate the prevalence and patterns of trauma exposure in justice-involved youth and dual trajectory group-based model to identify distinctive trajectory groups based on trauma exposure and PTS, examine the interrelationship between two outcomes simultaneously, and the impact of individual, family, peer, and environmental influences.

The dissemination strategy for this project will include peer-reviewed journal publications as well as presentations at national conferences for criminal justice professionals and victim service stakeholders.


Date Created: September 26, 2016