Psychopathic traits and delinquency in juveniles

Psychopathic traits and delinquency in juveniles

Psychopathic traits and delinquency in juveniles

Symposium10Cyril Boonmann, Psychiatric University Hospitals, Switzerland; Tania Pérez, Psychiatric University Hospitals, Switzerland; Süheyla Seker, Psychiatric University Hospitals, Switzerland

Room 1FWed 10:45 - 12:15

Psychopathic traits (Grandiose-Manipulative, Callous-Unemotional and Impulsive-Irresponsible traits) seem to be overrepresented in juvenile delinquents in comparison to juveniles from the general population. Still, these traits are also present among juveniles in the general population. In this symposium the influence of psychopathic traits on offending behaviour is discussed from different perspectives.

Presentation 1: Psychopathic traits and offending behavior in at-risk and general population juveniles
Psychopathic traits and offending behavior in at-risk and general population juvenilesBackground: Youths with high levels of psychopathic traits are a particularly severe subgroup within the group of antisocial youths (e.g., their age of onset is lower and their levels of delinquent behavior are higher than those of youths with low levels of psychopathic traits). More research into the origin and development of these traits could help prevent future antisocial behavior. Therefore, the main aim of our research project was to examine the prospective relationship between psychopathic traits and delinquent behavior (i.e., convictions) in at-risk juveniles (e.g., youths in residential care) as well as in the general population.Methods: Participants were 452 juveniles in residential youth care (placed under civil or criminal law) and 835 juveniles from the general population (age range: 13-21). The Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory (YPI) was used to assess psychopathic traits. Conviction data was provided by the Federal Statistical Office. The mean follow-up time was approximately 9 years in both samples. We set up survival functions (Kaplan-Meier) and calculated Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the relationship between YPI score and risk of being convicted for a violent and non-violent offence.Results: High YPI scores (i.e., top half) were associated with a higher hazard of violent and non-violent offence convictions in the at-risk sample, even when adjusting for various covariates. In the general population sample, high YPI scores were associated with a higher hazard of non-violent offence conviction. These results, however, did not remain significant when adjusting for covariates.Conclusions: In the current study, the predictive value of YPI scores for future convictions differed between samples. This should be taken into account when interpreting the generalizability of research results and transferring knowledge into clinical practice.

Presentation 2: Psychometric properties of the German Youth Psychopathic traits Inventory – Short Version
The aim of the current study is to examine the psychometric properties of the German Version of the Youth Psychopathic traits Inventory-Short Version (YPI-S). A sample of 856 adolescents (age: 15-19) from the german-speaking part of Switzerland was included. All participants completed the 50-item YPI, of which we derived the 18 items of the YPI-S. Furthermore, participants completed the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Version-2 (MAYSI-2), as well a self-report delinquency questionnaire. We were able to replicate a three-factor structure and found moderate to good internal consistency for the total score as well as for the three dimensions of the YPI-S. Furthermore, we found positive small to medium correlation with both internalizing and externalizing mental health problems, substance abuse problems, and offending behavior. Our results suggest that the German version of the YPI-S is a reliable and valid screening instrument for psychopathic traits in both boys and girls from the general population in the German-speaking part off Switzerland.

Presentation 3: Substance-use Disorders Among Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Adolescents in Residential Care: The Role of Childhood Adversities and Impulsive Behavior

Adolescents in the child welfare (CW) and juvenile justice (JJ) systems show high rates of substance use disorders (SUD). The knowledge about personal (impulsive behavior) and interpersonal (adverse childhood experiences [ACE]) factors related to SUD in CW and JJ involved youths is still inconclusive.

The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence of SUD and its relationship with ACE and impulsive behavior among CW and JJ involved adolescents respectively.

A total of 386 adolescents in residential care ages (37.0% girls; age range = 10-18 years; mean age = 15.41 years) in Switzerland were assessed with well-established questionnaires (CW: n = 286; JJ: n = 100). Lifetime SUD and different types of ACE were categorically assessed with the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia – Present and Lifetime Version. Impulsive-irresponsible behavior was dimensionally measured with the Youth Psychopathic traits Inventory. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore the relationship between ACE, impulsive-irresponsible behavior and lifetime SUD in CW and JJ involved youths separately.

JJ involved youths showed high rates of any SUD compared to CW involved youths (38% vs. 20%; (X2(1) = 22.21, p < 0.001). From the different types of ACEs, only physical abuse was associated with any SUD among CW involved youths (B = 1.31, SE = 0.41, p = 0.001), whereas impulsive-irresponsible behavior was related to any SUD among CW involved youths (B = 0.43, SE = 0.09, p < 0.001) and among JJ involved youth (B = 0.44, SE = 0.17, p = 0.01).
Considering the high rates of SUD in CW and JJ involved adolescents, this study highlights that interpersonal ACE are related with SUD among CW involved youths and, additionally, incorporating impulsive behavior in the treatment and assessment may reduce SUD among CW and JJ involved youths.

Child and adolescent Psychiatric Research Department
childhood adversity, impulsive behavior, residential care, substance-use disorders
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