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J Nurs Scholarsh. 2000;32(2):173-8.

Health status of young offenders and their families.

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Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, USA.



To describe the health status of youth committed and detained by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice. The problem of complex health needs of young offenders is gaining importance as the number of youth under the care of state juvenile justice systems steadily increases.


The health status of a random sample (N = 350) of male and female committed or detained young offenders was assessed utilizing a record review and a self-report health survey.


Ninety-seven percent of the sample reported levels of physical discomfort and 92% reported emotional discomfort. Nearly half (45%) of the youth had some medical condition, 53% had been abused, 20% injured, 16% sustained a gunshot or stab wound. Of youth reporting physical injury, 12% did not receive treatment. Family members, including siblings experienced similar health problems.


Patterns of physical and behavioral health problems were noted within these families, as were patterns of criminal behavior. Trans-generational patterns of at-risk behaviors were evident. Most youth (86%) perceived themselves to be healthy. However, when specific health indicators were examined, discrepancies between health status and health perceptions were noted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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