Early traumatization and psychopathy in female and male juvenile offenders

  • Krischer M
  • Sevecke K
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Childhood traumatization is expected to have a significant impact on the development of antisocial and aggressive behavior in adulthood. Psychopathy as a syndrome that can predict future violent and aggressive behavior in adults is therefore believed to be associated with early traumatization. The association between early childhood victimization and violence might at least be mediated through psychopathy. The present study examined the relationship between early emotional, physical or sexual trauma and neglect and psychopathy in incarcerated delinquent female and male juveniles using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and the Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version (PCL-YV). A sample of detained adolescents (n = 185) was compared to adolescent students (n = 98). Also, gender differences were analyzed with respect to the association of trauma and psychopathy. As expected, our analyses revealed higher scores of traumatization in delinquent juveniles compared to school adolescents. Hypothesized relationships between physical traumatization and the PCL-YV total score could be confirmed among criminal boys, but not among delinquent girls. Results, therefore, indicated that an association exists between early physical, but also emotional traumatic experience and psychopathy in detained boys. In girls, however, other family-related variables, such as non-parental living arrangements, seemed to be more influential in developing the psychopathy syndrome than traumatization. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Delinquency
  • Gender differences
  • Psychopathy
  • Traumatization

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  • Maya K. Krischer

  • Kathrin Sevecke

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