Examining the Link Between Trauma and Delinquency for Juvenile Delinquent Girls: A Longitudinal Study
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Recent research has postulated a correlation between childhood trauma and delinquency, but few empirical studies have examined the causal relationship between these constructs over time and, specifically, with juvenile delinquent girls. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to use an existing longitudinal data set to explore the relationship between childhood trauma experiences and the development of antisocial behavior over time. The sample included juvenile delinquent girls (N = 166) who were part of two nationally funded research projects conducted by researchers at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) entitled OSLC Relationship Study I comparing Mutlidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) and group care. A cross-lagged model was used to examine the association between trauma and delinquency across three time points. Multiple group analyses were conducted based on the moderating effects of age, cumulative historical trauma experiences, sexual abuse and out-of-home placements. Overall, study results showed that trauma and delinquency rates were not associated over time for the full sample. The moderating effect of age was partially supported with younger and older girls exhibiting different pathways. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.