Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 287–298 | Cite as

Polyvictimization, Emotion Dysregulation, Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Behavioral Health Problems among Justice-Involved Youth: a Latent Class Analysis

  • Ruby CharakEmail author
  • Julian D. Ford
  • Crosby A. Modrowski
  • Patricia K. Kerig


Among the 90% of adolescents involved in juvenile justice who have experienced traumatic victimization, a sub-group may be at highest risk due to histories of multiple types of interpersonal and non-interpersonal trauma, termed polyvictims. Latent class analyses (LCA) have identified polyvictimized subgroups in several studies of adolescents and adults, but only one study of traumatic victimization has been conducted with justice-involved youth (Ford et al. 2013). The current investigation replicates and extends that study’s findings using LCA to assess a wider range of victimization- and nonvictimization-related adversities and emotion dysregulation, DSM-5 symptom clusters of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and behavioral health problems, such as substance use, anger, depression, somatic complaints, and suicide ideation. In a sample of juvenile detainees three latent classes were identified: mixed adversity (MA; n = 327), violent environment (VE; n = 337), and polyvictimization (PV; n = 145). In contrast to MA youth, PV youth were more likely to report exposure to all forms of adversity, and in contrast to both MA and VE youth, exposure to maltreatment and family violence, and higher levels of emotion dysregulation, PTSD, and depression/anxiety symptoms, somatic complaints, and suicidality. VE youth (vs. MA youth) were more likely to report exposure to violence and non-interpersonal traumas, and were higher on some forms of emotion dysregulation, PTSD symptoms, anger and substance use. Findings suggest that most justice-involved youth have experienced substantial adversity, with almost one in five identified as a polyvictim having experienced multiple adversities, including impaired caregivers, and evidencing the most severe problems in emotion dysregulation and PTSD, internalizing, and externalizing symptoms.


Polyvictimization Latent class analysis Emotion dysregulation PTSD MAYSI-2 Juvenile justice Adolescents 



This study was in part supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (HRD-1463991, Ruby Charak), the Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA 1 SM080013–01 National Child Traumatic Stress Network Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice, Julian Ford, PI), a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (1256065) awarded to Crosby Modrowski, and the National Institute of Justice (Grant # 2014–90914-UT-IJ, Patricia Kerig, PI). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of the granting agencies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Charak and Kerig, and Ms. Modowski have no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication. Dr. Ford is the co-owner of Advanced Trauma Solutions, Inc, the soledistributior of the TARGET curriculum licensed by the copyright holder, the University of Connecticut.

Ethical Approval

Study procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the University of Utah and the Utah Department of Human Services.

Informed Consent

Legal guardians of the participants provided signed informed consent, and participants provided signed assent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological Science, ELABN 361The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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