Understanding Violence in Girls with Substance Misuse Problems
Violence among females is poorly understood. Violence is less common among females than males, and consequently it has been more difficult to construct samples of adequate size to examine complex interactions of risk and protective factors associated with persistent violence in females. The available evidence suggests that developmental trajectories are similar as are many of the nonbiological risk factors associated with violence among males. Knowledge is needed to inform interventions designed to reduce violence and other antisocial behaviors among young girls before these behaviors cause irreparable damage to their futures. This chapter describes a sample of adolescent girls who sought professional help for substance misuse problems, and their parents. Forty-five percent of the girls reported fighting, carrying a weapon, beating up someone, or injuring someone with a weapon in the year before seeking treatment. These girls were compared to those who reported no violent behavior. Risk factors significantly and independently associated with violence included having a first degree relative with a history of substance misuse and having experienced violent victimization by peers, while no protective factors against violence could be identified. Even though the nonviolent girls presented significant psychosocial problems, the violent girls were characterized by significantly more risk factors. The multiplicity and long-standing nature of the mental health and psychosocial problems presented by the violent girls within this clinical sample who sought treatment for substance misuse present a challenge to mental health services. The available evidence suggests that failure to address this challenge will lead to persistent violence, substance misuse, and poverty as the violent girls transition to adulthood and to conduct problems in their children.
KeywordsSexual Abuse Aggressive Behavior Anxiety Disorder Protective Factor Conduct Disorder
The research described in this chapter was conducted with support of a grant from “MOBilisering mot narkotika.” We would like to thank the adolescents and their parents who participated in the project, the research team members, and the clinical staff who helped collect data.
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