Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Latinx Youth in First Contact with the Justice System: Trauma and Associated Behavioral Health Needs


This study examines the prevalence of trauma exposure and its association with psychiatric symptoms, substance use, and sexual activity among First-Time Offending, Court-Involved Non-Incarcerated (FTO-CINI) Latinx youth. Latinx youth (N = 181), ages 12-18, were recruited from a family court in the Northeastern region of the United States as part of a longitudinal cohort study of 423 FTO-CINI youth. Baseline data on trauma exposure and symptoms, psychiatric symptoms, substance use (alcohol/marijuana), and sexual activity among the Latinx sample were analyzed by age, gender, and offense type (status versus delinquent). Almost three-quarters of Latinx FTO-CINI youth reported lifetime trauma exposure. Almost half of Latinx youth reported lifetime marijuana use, 30% reported lifetime alcohol use, and 33% reported lifetime sexual activity. Females reported higher rates of internalizing symptoms and greater affect dysregulation. Trauma-exposed youth were more likely than their non-exposed peers to have reported more externalizing symptoms; trauma-exposed females compared to trauma-exposed males reported more severe internalizing symptoms. Latinx FTO-CINI females may have different behavioral health needs than their male counterparts. Court-based screening and assessment practices should attend to the specific behavioral needs of this unique, underserved population.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View