Loss and Grief among Persistently Delinquent Youth: The Contribution of Adversity Indicators and Psychopathy-Spectrum Traits to Broadband Internalizing and Externalizing Psychopathology
Despite profound adversity exposure (loss, trauma) among delinquents, with adversity linked to early-onset persistent delinquency [EOPD], externalizing syndromes (Conduct Disorder) continue to overshadow impairing internalizing syndromes. Three understudied factors potentially contribute to both syndromes among delinquents: bereavement-related distress [BRD] from death-exposures; psychopathy-spectrum traits associated with system-involvement; and emotional abuse, implicated in lifespan morbidities. Therefore, we characterized loss/BRD among 107 EOPD adolescent girls and boys, comparing: (1) psychopathology and maltreatment (emotional, physical and sexual abuse); and (2) adversity-related (BRD, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], maltreatment) and psychopathy-spectrum predictors of internalizing and externalizing syndromes. Death exposure was common, resulting in developmental disruptions (school difficulties: 49.4%) and clinically significant BRD (33.8%), with girls evidencing greater BRD severity. BRD and psychopathy-traits, not PTSD, positively predicted all youths’ internalizing, and boys’ externalizing, syndromes. More frequent physical abuse increased both syndromes among boys. Emotional abuse alone predicted girls’ externalizing syndromes, highlighting the contribution of this overlooked maltreatment-type.
KeywordsGrief and bereavement-related distress Child maltreatment Emotional abuse Broadband internalizing and externalizing syndromes Psychopathy Early-onset persistent delinquent youth
This work was supported by the National Institute of Child and Human Development grants K01HD051112, R01HD066161, and R01HD066161-01S1 and − 05S1 Diversity Supplements. The project was also partially supported by the National Institutes of Health, University of California, San Diego’s [UCSD] Clinical and Translational Research Institute, Grants UL1TR000100 and 1UL1RR031980-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH. We are also appreciative for support received from UCSD’s Academic Senate Health Sciences Research Grant Committee. We thank our participants for their time and willingness to participate, our talented project staff, and the San Diego County Probation Department for their cooperation.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation [institutional and national] and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.
Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.
- Achenbach, T., & Rescorla, L. (2001). ASEBA school-age forms & profiles.Google Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual-text revision (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.Google Scholar
- Andershed, H., Kerr, M., Stattin, H., & Levander, S. (2002). Psychopathic traits in non-referred youths. In E. Blaauw & L. Sheridan (Eds.), Psychopaths: current international perspectives (pp. 131–158). The Hague: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Baglivio, M., Epps, N., Swartz, K., Huq, M., Sheer, A., & Hardt, N. (2014). The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in the lives of juvenile offenders. Journal Juvenile Justice, 3, 1.Google Scholar
- Bernstein, D., & Fink, L. (1998). Childhood trauma questionnaire: A retrospective self-report: Manual. Harcourt Brace & Company.Google Scholar
- Bolger, K. E., & Patterson, C. J. (2003). Sequelae of child maltreatment: Vulnerability and resilience. Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities, pp. 156–181.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analyses for the social sciences. Hillsdale, NJ, Erlbauni Assoc.Google Scholar
- Dierkhising, C., Ko, S., Woods-Jaeger, B., Briggs, E., Lee, R., & Pynoos, R. (2013). Trauma histories among justice-involved youth. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 4.Google Scholar
- Dunst, C., & Leet, H. (1987). Measuring the adequacy of resources in households with young children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 13, 111–125.Google Scholar
- Kerig, P., & Becker, S. (2010). From internalizing to externalizing: Theoretical models of the processes linking PTSD to juvenile delinquency. In S. J. Egan (Ed.), Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Causes, symptoms and treatment (pp. 33–78). Hauppauge: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
- Lansing, A., Plante, W., Golshan, S., Fennema-Notestine, C., & Thuret, S. (2017). Emotion regulation mediates the relationship between verbal learning and internalizing, trauma-related and externalizing symptoms among early-onset, persistently delinquent adolescents. Learning and Individual Differences. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2017.01.014.Google Scholar
- Lansing, A., Virk, A., Notestine, R., Plante, W., & Fennema-Notestine, C. (2016). Cumulative trauma, adversity and grief symptoms associated with fronto-temporal regions in life course persistent delinquent boys. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 254, 92–102.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Melhem, N., Day, N., Shear, M., Day, R., Reynolds, I. I. I., C., & Brent, D. (2004). Traumatic grief among adolescents exposed to a peer’s suicide. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1411–1416.Google Scholar
- Nader, K., Kriegler, J., Blake, D., Pynoos, R., Newman, E., & Weathers, F. (1996). Clinician administered PTSD scale for children and adolescents. National Center for PTSD.Google Scholar
- Newman, E., McMackin, R., Morrissey, C., & Erwin, B. (1997). Addressing PTSD and trauma related symptoms among criminally involved male adolescents. Stresspoints, 11, 7.Google Scholar
- Nock, M., Green, J., Hwang, I., McLaughlin, K., Sampson, N., Zaslavsky, A., & Kessler, R. (2013). Prevalence, correlates, and treatment of lifetime suicidal behavior among adolescents: results from the national comorbidity survey replication adolescent supplement. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(3), 300–310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Prigerson, H., & Jacobs, S. (2001). Traumatic grief as a distinct disorder: A rationale, consensus criteria, and a preliminary empirical test. In M. S. Stroebe, R. O. Hansson, W. Stroebe & H. Schut (Eds.), Handbook of bereavement research: Consequences, coping, and care (pp. 613–645). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10436-026.
- Semel, R. (2017). Utility of the ASEBA Youth Self-Report (YSR) in juvenile delinquency assessments. EC Psychology and Psychiatry, 1, 217–225.Google Scholar
- Sickmund, M., & Puzzanchera, C. (2014). Juvenile offenders and victims. 2014 National Report. Pittsburgh: National Center for Juvenile Justice.Google Scholar
- Wolpaw, J., & Ford, J. (2004). Assessing exposure to psychological trauma and traumatic stress in the juvenile justice population. LA, CA: National Child Traumatic Stress Network.Google Scholar