Young offenders' experiences of traumatic life events. A qualitative investigation

Crouch, William, Paton, Joni and Camic, Paul (2009) Young offenders' experiences of traumatic life events. A qualitative investigation. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 14 (1). pp. 43-62. ISSN 1359-1045

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This investigation aimed to look at how a group of young offenders attending an inner-city youth offending team experienced adverse and traumatic life events. A qualitative approach was used and semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight young offenders about their perceptions of difficult experiences and the effects of such events. The interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Jarman, & Osborn, 1999). Analysis of the accounts yielded a number of themes. Young offenders experienced violence at home, in the community and in custody. Instability and transitions emerged as important themes in relation to school and home. Deprivation was experienced both in terms of poverty and the literal and emotional absence of parents. A variety of cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses to adverse/traumatic experiences were identified, including a blocking out of painful experience and aggression to self and others. There were barriers to seeking or making use of professional support. Custody appeared to offer an opportunity to reflect on and re-evaluate life trajectory. The study concluded that greater consideration of trauma when carrying out assessments would enable `at risk' young offenders to be identified using clinical interviewing along side standardized measures to aid assessment of the complexity and uniqueness of the response to trauma.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescence, Qualitative research, Trauma, Young offenders
Subjects: Criminology > Young Offenders, Youth Crime
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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