Gentlereaders: Findings from the survey of youth in residential placement. Crime in America.Net
The findings below are based on a recent document from the US Department of Justice regarding interviews with a nationally representative sample of 7,073 youth in custody during spring 2003.
If one wonders why we have high levels of crime in America, one simply needs to review the data below and recognize that most youth do not get the services they need to address these issues.
Problems with anger are especially prevalent within this population, with more than 60 percent of youth reporting that they were easily upset, quick to lose their temper, and often angry
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are also common, with 51 percent of the custody population reporting that nervous or worried feelings have kept them from doing what they want to do over the past few months, and 52 percent indicating that they feel lonely “too much of the time.”
The majority of youth responding to this survey (70 percent) report some type of past traumatic experience which may include physical or sexual abuse. Nearly one-third (30 percent) indicate some history of prior abuse, whether frequent or injurious physical abuse, sexual abuse, or both
Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of youth in custody have tried alcohol, compared to 56 percent of youth in the general population. Additionally, 84 percent of youth in custody admit using marijuana, compared to 30 percent of youth in the general population.
Rates of other drug use are also significantly higher for youth in custody; 50 percent admit trying illegal drugs other than marijuana—nearly double the rate of experimentation of their general population peers (27 percent).
More than half of youth (59 percent) say they were drunk or high on drugs several times a week or more during the months before they were taken into custody. Two-thirds of youth in custody (68 percent) report problems related to this substance use, such as getting into trouble while they were high, not meeting their responsibilities, or having a blackout experience.8
The needs of female offenders differ from those of males, as do the services they receive. SYRP’s findings on the national population in custody validate findings in local populations that show that female offenders in placement have more mental health and substance use problems.