June 23, 2009

Health of young offenders is poor

The physical and mental health needs of juvenile offenders should be a priority if offenders have any hope of rehabilitation, Australian researchers suggest.

The health of young offenders is commonly poorer in comparison with the general youth population, lead author Dr. Anne Wilson said in a statement.

The review, published in the Australian Journal of Primary Health, and co-authored by doctoral student Phillip Tully found:

-- Mental health, grief and trauma are among the most common issues affecting both male and female young offenders.

-- Youth who are detained in secure care show significantly higher rates of mental health issues than young offenders who are not detained.

-- Young offenders in secure care generally have a poor level of physical health because of issues such as frequent substance abuse, head injury, exposure to direct trauma injuries or exposure to violence, hepatitis C infection and liver disease, and exposure to sexually transmissible diseases.

-- Young offenders have a higher death rate than similar aged non-offenders, with as many as 70 percent of deaths attributable to drugs and suicide.

-- High-risk sexual behavior leads to higher rates of pregnancy among young female offenders.