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Beyond Trauma Exposure: Discrimination and Posttraumatic Stress, Internalizing, and Externalizing Problems Among Detained Youth

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Dated: 2020
Date Published

This study examined whether self-reported racial discrimination was related to posttraumatic stress symptoms, internalizing, and externalizing symptoms above and beyond the impact of other trauma exposures in a sample of 266 detained youth (79 percent boys, 60 percent identified as an ethnic minority). 


According to the race-based traumatic stress model, racial discrimination is proposed to comprise a traumatic experience that results in posttraumatic stress symptoms, as well as internalizing and externalizing problems among youth. Accordingly, a significant body of research has emerged that supports the associations among these constructs; however, most of these empirical studies have not accounted for the potential role of traditionally defined traumatic events in these associations. Results of hierarchical linear regressions demonstrated that after accounting for youths’ other trauma exposures, racial discrimination accounted for significant variance in the models predicting delinquency and risk-taking, but no other externalizing and internalizing problems or posttraumatic stress symptoms. These findings indicate that racial discrimination may be particularly important for understanding offending behavior among detained youth. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020