Trauma and Girls’ Delinquency

  • Patricia K. Kerig
  • Stephen P. Becker


With US arrest rates for violent crime rising among adolescent girls, there is an increased sense of urgency about the need to better understand girls’ delinquency (Tracy et al. 2009; Wolf and Kempf-Leonard 2009). Recent thinking about girls involved in the juvenile justice system has focused on the role of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as precipitants of delinquency that are particularly salient for girls (e.g., Acoca 1998; Bloom et al. 2002; Chamberlain and Moore 2002; Graziano and Wagner 2011; Kerig 2011, in press). In this chapter, we set out to evaluate the state of the science in regard to the relations between trauma and delinquency. Along the way, we encountered many challenges – definitional, methodological, and conceptual – some expected findings, and some unexpected ones. To organize our review, we set for ourselves the task of addressing three questions: Why might PTSD be implicated specifically in girls’ delinquency; What is the evidence for a differential role of PTSD in girls’ delinquency; and What mechanisms might account for the association between PTSD and delinquency among girls? In keeping with the theme of this volume, we defined delinquency as involvement in the legal system, and thus focused our literature review on those “deep end” (Cauffman 2008) youth found in detention settings and juvenile justice samples.


Sexual Abuse Traumatic Event Antisocial Behavior Ptsd Symptom Violent Crime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Miami UniversityOxfordUSA

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