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A Study of the Impact of Screening for Poly-Victimization in Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2017
21 pages
This project tested the feasibility of and validated a poly-victimization screening tool for the identification of justice-involved youth who have had extensive exposure to multiple types of victimization.
It is important to have such a tool to administer to youth entering the juvenile justice system, since youth with a poly-victimization background have more severe emotional, behavioral, interpersonal, and school problems than justice-involved youth without such a background. The project built on the widespread use of the MAYSI-2 (Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument) screener in juvenile justice by adding a brief but comprehensive screener for lifetime exposure to victimization and other potentially traumatic events (PTEs) and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has been developed for and validated with maltreated youth. This added screener is called the STRESS (Grasso, Felton, and Reid-Quinones, 2015). The MAYSI-2 is a 52-item true-false questionnaire that is widely used and validated internationally to screen justice-involved youth for mental health problems. A quasi-experimental design was used to compare the screening of youth adjudicated in the juvenile justice system with the MAYSI-2 (screening as usual, SAU) with a poly-victimization-enhanced screening (PVE) that added the STRESS. The comparison was designed to use both retrospective and prospective archival juvenile justice system data as outcomes. STRESS data routinely collected at admission to the two juvenile detention centers in Connecticut were used to identify a poly-victim sub-group in the PVE cohort and sub-groups from two SAU cohorts matched with this poly-victim sub-group on demographics and MAYSI-2 profiles. Contrary to the study's expectations, poly-victimization-enhanced screening was not associated with improved behavioral or legal status during the index detention admission nor in the subsequent year; however, reasons are given for why the findings warrant further examination of the use of STRESS screening results by detention staff. 8 references and 5 tables

Date Published: July 1, 2017