Adverse childhood experiences and trauma among young people supervised by Youth Justice

Dr Catia Malvaso1, Prof Andrew Day, A/Prof Jesse Cale, Prof Paul Delfabbro, Ms Louisa Hackett, Prof Stuart Ross

1The University Of Adelaide

This research is concerned with the prevalence and experience of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a representative sample of young people under Youth Justice supervision in South Australia. Data were collected from a battery of self-report assessments administered to 184 young people, which were subsequently linked to administrative records. The analysis showed that not only was the prevalence of ACEs particularly high in this population (89% experienced a combination of maltreatment and household dysfunction), but so too was trauma symptomatology, substance use, and internalising and externalising behaviours (with more than two thirds of young people scoring in the clinical ranges on each of these measures). Using latent class analysis, four distinct subgroups of young people were identified according to different patterns of ACEs experienced. These findings offer empirical evidence for Youth Justice policymakers and practitioners to develop new ways of working with justice-involved young people that take account of key developmental experiences of adversity.


Dr Catia Malvaso is research fellow who sits across the Schools of Psychology and Public Health at the University of Adelaide. Her position is funded through an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. Catia’s program of research focuses on better understanding pathways from childhood adversity to youth and adult offending behaviour with a focus on identifying opportunities for prevention. She was awarded the 2020 Early Career Researcher Prize from the Developmental and Life Course Criminology Division of the American Society of Criminology.


Dec 09 2021