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The prevalence of mental health problems in the juvenile offender population is substantially higher than that of the general population (Cocozza & Skowyra, 2000). Studies estimate that one in five juvenile offenders has serious mental health problems, which is nearly twice the rate of occurrence of mental illness in children and adults in the general population (NMHA Fact Sheet #l). However, there have been several methodological problems encountered in previous research. These include the use of inconsistent definitions and measurements of mental illness; the use of biased, nonrandom samples, a reliance on retrospective case report data, and the use of non-standard measurement instruments (Coccozza & Skowyra, 2000).
All these factors can cause confusion on the actual prevalence rates of mental illness in the juvenile offender population. From other studies, tentative estimates of specific disorders prevalent among incarcerated youth are as follows: "50-90% with conduct disorder, up to 46% with attention deficit disorder, 6-41%with anxiety disorders, 25-50%with substance abuse or dependence, 32-78% with affective (emotional) disorders, and 1-6% with psychotic disorders" (Goldstrom et al, ).
Juvenile delinquents – Mental health; Mental illness
Child Psychology | Health Services Research | Juvenile Law | Psychiatry and Psychology
Nevada Institute for Children's Rerearch and Policy,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas,
Mental Health of Incarcerated Juveniles in Nevada: Final Report.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/nicrp_reports/38