Report highlights effects of trauma on youth in state correctional facilitiesAmong the findings in Youth in Minnesota Correctional Facilities and the Effects of Trauma, are that youth in correctional facilities report experiencing more traumatic events than youth in mainstream schools – and as exposure to traumas increase, so do mental health and behavioral problems, including suicidal ideation and attempts.
The effects of trauma on youth in Minnesota correctional facilities are detailed in a new report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Among the findings in Youth in Minnesota Correctional Facilities and the Effects of Trauma, are that youth in correctional facilities report experiencing more traumatic events than youth in mainstream schools – and as exposure to traumas increase, so do mental health and behavioral problems, including suicidal ideation and attempts.
The report analyzes responses to the Minnesota School Survey (MSS), a 127-item questionnaire administered every three years to sixth-, ninth- and 12th-graders in Minnesota public schools examining attitudes, behaviors and health indicators. In 2010, about 131,000 students completed the MSS, including those in 24 residential juvenile correctional facilities in Minnesota.
The study examines the types of trauma experienced by youth in correctional facilities and how trauma manifests in feelings, health and behavior. In this study, traumatic experiences include youths’ self-reported exposure to domestic violence; sexual abuse; and physical, sexual or emotional abuse in a dating relationship. Findings specifically related to trauma include:
· Nearly twice as many youth in correctional facilities (53%) report exposure to trauma compared to mainstream youth (28%).
· Four times as many girls in correctional facilities (40%) report exposure to multiple forms of trauma than do boys in correctional facilities (10%). Experiencing and witnessing domestic abuse are the most common traumas reported by both youth in correctional facilities and mainstream schools.
· Mainstream youth report more physical, emotional or sexual abuse in dating relationships than correctional facility youth; youth in correctional facilities report more sexual abuse perpetrated by someone outside of their family.
· As the exposure to different forms of trauma increases, so does the likelihood that youth report using cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
· Youth in correctional facilities with exposure to more forms of trauma report more running away from home, lower perceptions of parental care, and higher rates of family drug or alcohol use than do youth reporting no trauma.
· Youth in correctional facilities with exposure to more forms of trauma report more self-injurious behaviors, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, as well as increased difficulties with concentration, sleep and impulsivity.
In response to the findings, OJP has compiled best practices on trauma-informed care for juvenile justice system staff, including the role of family involvement, and importance of screening and assessment.
“The majority of youth in Minnesota correctional facilities have experienced trauma, and its impact on those children cannot be stressed enough,” says Danette Buskovick, OJP director of Training, Research and Communications. “As a result, employing trauma-informed care with justice system-involved youth is critical to effective programming and intervention.”
Two previous reports in this series have been issued; Youth in Minnesota Correctional Facilities was issued in September 2011 and Girls in Minnesota Correctional Facilities was released in December 2011. The MSS will be conducted again in 2013 with OJP issuing subsequent reports detailing those findings.