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Adverse childhood experiences in Indigenous and Caucasian female and male youth on probation: Rates and interventions

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Muir, Nicole
Even though Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in the Canadian justice system, little research has studied potential mechanisms for this overrepresentation. To address this gap, the current dissertation examined the association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and recidivism and investigated whether youth probation officers (YPOs) considered trauma in their case formulations. The sample comprised 187 justice-involved Indigenous and Caucasian female and male youth. ACEs, reoffense records, risk statements and trauma focused interventions were coded from justice files with a follow-up period of 1.51 years. Results showed that compared to Caucasian youth, Indigenous youth had significantly higher ACE scores. Indigenous males violently recidivated significantly more than Caucasian males and Indigenous females had significantly more any recidivism than Caucasian females. ACEs predicted and shortened time to any recidivism, added incremental validity above the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY; Borum, Bartel & Forth, 2006) for any recidivism and mediated the relationship between Indigenous ethnicity and any recidivism. YPOs screened for ACEs but infrequently linked ACEs to recidivism. Finally, trauma focused interventions like therapy referrals were rare for youth with high ACEs. Overall, the current study found that ACEs were especially important for Indigenous youth. As such, screening for ACEs alongside the SAVRY and including Indigenous specific trauma interventions (e.g., Honoring Children interventions) may reduce recidivism for Indigenous youth. Future research should incorporate participatory action approaches and focus on how colonialism plays into justice overrepresentation for Indigenous youth.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Viljoen, Jodi L.
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