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Linking Childhood Trauma Exposure to Adolescent Justice Involvement: The Concept of Posttraumatic Risk-Seeking

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Date Published
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This article reviews evidence that supports the link between trauma exposure and self-harming or recklessness, and outlines theories that propose biological and psychological functions of these behaviors, which can be understood as representing the proposed construct of posttraumatic risk-seeking.
A substantial body of research confirms that trauma exposure predicts adolescent involvement in the justice system, although the mechanisms accounting for this association are not well understood. The most recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013, Washington, DC) diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder introduced a new symptom, that of "self-destructive or risky behavior," which may have particular relevance to understanding posttraumatic reactions in the adolescent period and the processes by which trauma becomes associated with offending. Implications for future research and interventions with traumatized youth are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019