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Posttraumatic Overmodulation, Callous-Unemotional Traits, and Offending Among justice-involved Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
15 pages
This study examined the role of overmodulation in the association between childhood trauma exposure (TE) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits and their link with persistent offending by justice-involved youth.
A large body of research has demonstrated an association between childhood trauma exposure (TE) and adolescent delinquency. This association may be explained by callous-unemotional (CU) traits, which may stem from TE and are associated with persistent offending and recidivism; however, research on the mechanisms underlying TE and delinquency has lacked specificity regarding the posttraumatic symptoms that may drive this effect, particularly new models that distinguish between posttraumatic symptoms (PTS) of overmodulation versus undermodulation. Participants in the current study were 829 detained youth who completed self-report measures of TE, PTS, and CU traits. Official records of youth offenses were also obtained. Results of path analyses demonstrated that the association between interpersonal TE and persistent offending exhibited an indirect effect through overmodulation and CU traits. Efforts to address overmodulation among traumatized detained youth may represent a promising avenue of intervention for reducing recidivism. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018