To determine prevalence estimates of exposure to trauma and 12-month
rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among juvenile detainees by
demographic subgroups (sex, race/ethnicity, and age).
Epidemiologic study of juvenile detainees. Master's level clinical research
interviewers administered the PTSD module of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule
for Children, version IV (DISC-IV), to randomly selected detainees.
A large, temporary detention center for juveniles in Cook County, Illinois
(which includes Chicago and surrounding suburbs).
Randomly selected, stratified sample of 898 African American, non-Hispanic
white, and Hispanic youth (532 males, 366 females, aged 10-18 years) arrested
and newly detained.
Main Outcome Measures
Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, version IV.
Most participants (92.5%) had experienced 1 or more traumas (mean, 14.6
incidents; median, 6 incidents). Significantly more males (93.2%) than females
(84.0%) reported at least 1 traumatic experience; 11.2% of the sample met
criteria for PTSD in the past year. More than half of the participants with
PTSD reported witnessing violence as the precipitating trauma.
Trauma and PTSD seem to be more prevalent among juvenile detainees than
in community samples. We recommend directions for research and discuss implications
for mental health policy.