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Assessing Detained Youth in Pennsylvania

NCJ Number
Pennsylvania Progress Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2000 Pages: 1-7
Date Published
December 2000
7 pages
This article examines Pennsylvania's efforts to gather information on the mental health status of youth in detention and to improve facilities' handling of mental health issues.
Since the spring of 2000, young people entering 10 Pennsylvania juvenile detention centers have been answering a series of questions in the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument - Second Version (MAYSI-2). Judging from their answers, a significant proportion of detained youth in Pennsylvania urgently need further mental health assessment and services. Nearly one in four (23 percent) juvenile detainees scored in either the caution or warning ranges on the test's suicidal ideation scale. Thirty-five percent of girls and 20 percent of boys gave indications of suicidal thinking. Thirty-eight percent exhibited caution/warning signs of potentially abusive patterns of alcohol or drug use. Fifty-six percent of girls and 38 percent of boys showed signs of depression and anxiety. Overall, about one in three (33 percent) gave signs of having suffered or witnessed abuse, rape, violence, or other traumatic events. Among girls alone, the proportion was nearly half. The article expresses the hope that MAYSI-2 results may help to inform funding, training, programming, and resource-allocation decisions facing juvenile detention policymakers. Notes

Date Published: December 1, 2000