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DSM-III diagnoses and offenses in committed female juvenile delinquents.

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  • 1Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Florida, College of Medicine.


The relationship between juvenile delinquency and psychiatric disorders remains poorly understood. However, it is becoming more apparent that the spectrum of psychiatric illness present in juvenile delinquents is broader than once believed. Fifteen female juvenile delinquents committed to a residential treatment program were assessed for DSM-III diagnoses, using a structured diagnostic interview, the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents (DICA). A search of the literature revealed no other reports using the DICA in female juvenile delinquents. A broad spectrum of current and past diagnoses was discovered, including conduct disorder (100%), substance abuse/dependence (87%), major depression (67%), and anxiety disorders (47%). The average number of lifetime diagnoses per subject was 4.7; current diagnoses averaged 3.4 per subject. Additionally, criminal and status offense records were obtained for each subject. No significant relationship was noted between diagnoses and categories of offense. These results add further evidence for the presence of frequent and severe psychiatric disturbances in this population, and the need for increased clinical and research efforts by the psychiatric community.

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