Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on High-Risk Inpatients’ Criminal Behavior

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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) play a role in the development of chronic mental and physical diseases in adulthood. These experiences include adversities such as: emotional/verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and household dysfunction. Building from the ACE study conducted by Kaiser Permanente from 1995-1997, this study aims to contribute to the body of knowledge gained about ACE’s and their effects on health in high risk populations, and to examine the effects of developmental diversity on criminality. In this study, we hypothesize that forensic mental health offenders will have higher ACE scores than community participants. Secondly, we hypothesize that these participants will show higher rates of and earlier incidences of offending, arrest, incarceration, and hospitalization as a result of their ACE scores. Further, we hypothesize that males and females will be affected by ACE’s differently, as seen in number of arrests, incarceration, and hospitalizations. Using archival data from a secure forensic psychiatric facility in the Midwestern US, data were collected from 211 participants, of which 80% were males and 18% females. The ages of the participants ranged from 23 to 72 with a median age of 42. Caucasians comprised 46% of the sample followed by African Americans at 34%. Using SPSS software, we were able to determine frequency of the ten categories of abuse, maltreatment, and familial dysfunction as included in the original 2015 Appalachian Student Research Forum Page 49 ACE research. Correlations were run to determine the relationship between ACE’s and criminal behavior. Statistical comparisons were also run to examine the differences between males and females. ACE score significantly correlated with age at first psychiatric admission. Males and females were significantly different with regard to ACE score. However, other variables were not significant, as predicted by prior research, and suggest that future research that need to more deeply examine differences between males and females with regard to adverse childhood experience, and additional variables that determine criminal outcomes in high-risk samples.


Johnson City, TN

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