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Influence of Child Maltreatment on Juveniles' Psychological Adjustment Within Correctional Institutions

NCJ Number
Date Published
248 pages
This study sought to determine whether child maltreatment has a significant and positive impact on changes in anxiety and depression levels among institutionalized juveniles during the time they are in residential facilities, as well as whether juveniles who were maltreated as children adjust differently in boot camps compared to traditional institutions.
Data used in this study were collected between April 1997 and August 1998. The study used a longitudinal sample of 509 juveniles confined to 48 correctional facilities in 20 States. Site visits were made to each of the 48 correctional facilities. During these visits, juveniles completed a confidential self-report survey that solicited information on demographics, previous delinquent behavior, and attitudes and experiences about their current institutionalization. A second survey was conducted at a later time to determine whether juveniles' attitudes and beliefs had changed after they had been institutionalized for several months. Psychological adjustment was measured with a summated scale that determined anxiety and depression. Child maltreatment was measured with a nine-item scale adapted from the Conflict Tactics Scales and the revised Conflict Tactics Scales. This measured the extent to which juveniles were neglected, physically abused, sexually abused, or had witnessed violence between family members. Ordinary least squares regression was used to examine the impact of child maltreatment on juvenile maladjustment. The findings show that incarcerated youth who experienced greater levels of child maltreatment had higher levels of both anxiety and depression, holding other individual and institutional related factors constant. Additionally, greater levels of maltreatment were associated with increased changes in depression over time. There was a significant decrease in depression for juveniles in boot camps; however, findings indicate there was not a significant interaction between facility type and maltreatment on adjustment. These findings suggest that child maltreatment should be assessed when treating issues related to psychological adjustment within correctional environments. Appended study instruments, extensive tabular data, and 430 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999