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Violence exposure, posttraumatic stress, and personality in juvenile delinquents.

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  • 1Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-7900, USA. vladislav.ruchkin@yale.edu



To assess posttraumatic stress and its relationship to comorbid psychopathology, violence exposure, and personality traits in Russian male juvenile delinquents.


Posttraumatic stress and comorbid psychopathology were assessed by a semistructured psychiatric interview (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version) in 370 delinquent youths during winter-spring of 1999. In addition, violence exposure, personality, and psychopathology were assessed by self-reports.


Most delinquents reported some degree of posttraumatic stress: 156 subjects (42%) fulfilled partial criteria and 87 (25%) fulfilled full DSM-IV criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Violence-related experiences (witnessing and victimization) were the most common types of trauma. Higher levels of posttraumatic stress were accompanied by higher rates of comorbid psychopathology, with the most striking differences occurring between the groups with full versus partial PTSD criteria. Violence exposure was related to temperamental behavior activation (novelty seeking), whereas PTSD symptom scores were predominantly related to behavior inhibition and poor coping (high harm avoidance and low self-directedness).


Similar to findings from American samples, Russian juvenile delinquents represent a severely traumatized population, mainly due to high levels of violence exposure. Those with full PTSD are the most severely traumatized and have highest rates of psychopathology, as compared to those with no or partial PTSD, and they require the most clinical attention and rehabilitation. Both exposure to violence and levels of posttraumatic stress are related to personality traits, which influence degree of exposure and individual perception of stress. The latter should be considered in individualized approaches to rehabilitation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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