Childhood traumatic experiences and mental health problems in sexually offending and non-sexually offending juveniles

Cyril Boonmann, Thomas Grisso, Laura S. Guy, Olivier F. Colins, Eva A. Mulder, P. Vahl, Lucres M.C. Jansen, Theo A.H. Doreleijers, Robert R.J.M. Vermeiren

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Objective: To examine the relationship between a history of childhood abuse and mental health problems in juveniles who sexually offended (JSOs) over and above general offending behavior. Methods: A sample of 44 JSOs incarcerated in two juvenile detention centers in the Netherlands between May 2008 and March 2014 were examined for childhood abuse history (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form) and mental health problems (Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Version 2). Furthermore, the connection between childhood abuse and mental health problems in JSOs was compared to a sample of 44 propensity score matched juveniles who offended non-sexually (non-JSOs). Results: In JSOs, sexual abuse was related to anger problems, suicidal ideation, and thought disturbance. These associations were significantly stronger in JSOs than in non-JSOs. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the relationship between childhood abuse and both internalizing and externalizing mental health problems is of more salience for understanding sexual offending than non-sexual offending, and should, therefore, be an important focus in the assessment and treatment of JSOs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalChild and adolescent psychiatry and mental health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • MAYSI-2
  • Mental health problems
  • Sexual offending juveniles

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