BACKGROUND: Cross-national studies describing the psychopathological characteristics of arrested adolescents are virtually non-existent. Such studies are important because they have implications for national policy on arrest, case-management, and future research.
METHOD: To address this issue, self-report surveys administered to representative groups of 12- to 16-year-old adolescents in New Haven, USA (N = 1138) and Antwerp, Belgium (N = 627) were compared. A number of internalizing and deviant behavior variables were compared between controls (C), non-arrested antisocial (NA), and arrested antisocial (AR) participants.
RESULTS: Similar cross-national arrest rates and levels of antisocial behavior were found. NA and AR youths in both countries reported more internalizing problems, except for anxiety, and more deviant characteristics. Contrary to expectations, the level of depression was not higher in AR compared to NA youth when differences in antisocial behavior between NA and AR were controlled. Also unexpected, arrest showed an independent association with a number of deviant behavior variables.
CONCLUSIONS: Further research should investigate the underlying mechanisms of these associations, as this insight would be useful for developing future intervention and prevention programs, as well as for developing future national policies regarding juvenile antisocial behavior.
2004. Vol. 45, no 3, 567-76 p.