-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, June 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Delinquent youth face
a significantly increased risk for a violent death when they're
adults, a new study finds.
Their rate of violent death was nearly twice as high as U.S.
combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the
Among these delinquent teens, girls and Hispanics are most
likely to die violently when they're adults, the investigators
The rate of violent death among delinquent females was nearly
five times higher than for females in the general population. For
males, the rate of violent death was nearly three times higher
among delinquents than in the general male population. Rates among
delinquent Hispanic females and males were nine and five times
higher, respectively, than in the general population, the study
Alcohol abuse, selling drugs and gang involvement among teens
were the three risk factors that predicted a violent death by age
34, according to the study published online June 16 and in the July
print issue of
"Our findings are shocking," study author Linda Teplin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "Death rates in our sample of delinquent youth, ages 15 to 19, are nearly twice those of troops in combat in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan," she said.
"Early violent death is a health disparity," Teplin added. "Youth who get detained are disproportionately poor and disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities. We must address early violent death the same as any other health disparity."
The study included more than 1,800 children, aged 10 to 18,
detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in
Chicago between 1995 and 1998. The study participants were
interviewed, then followed for up to 16 years.
Of the 111 participants who died during the follow-up period, 68
percent were murdered and 91 percent of those murders were
committed with a gun, the findings showed. Blacks were 4.5 times
more likely to be murdered than whites.
Many youth who commit crimes have untreated psychiatric
disorders, according to Teplin. For example, they may use drugs to
self-medicate for depression, and then sell drugs to afford them,
"Prevention is key. We need to reduce the likelihood that youth will become delinquent. And, if they are arrested and detained, we need interventions to reduce violence. Otherwise, perpetrators often become victims," Teplin said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
teen mental health.
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