The present investigation aims to identify the factors which differentiate violent from non-violent juvenile offenders, with a particular emphasis on the association between internalizing psychiatric morbidity (i.e. anxiety and depression), impulsivity, substance misuse, and violence. A total of 323 incarcerated male juvenile offenders from one of three Youth Detention Centers (YDCs) in China were recruited between August 2007 and November 2008. Interviews were conducted by trained psychiatrists using the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11), the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED), and the Birleson Depression Self-Rating Scale (DSRS) to assess impulsivity, anxiety and depression, respectively. The Schedule for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Present and Lifetime (K-SADS-PL) was also used to assess psychiatric diagnoses. Violent offenders had significantly higher BIS-11 total scores, and attention and nonplanning subscale scores (p<0.05). In the multiple logistic regression model, substance use disorders (SUD) and BIS-11 total scores independently predicted violence. Prison-based treatment services designed to reduce impulsivity and substance misuse in juvenile detention facilities should be prioritized.
- Incarcerated youths
- Juvenile offenders
- Psychiatric disorders
- Internalizing and externalizing symptoms