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Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria

Print version ISSN 1516-4446

Abstract

HUCULAK, Susan; MCLENNAN, John D.  and  BORDIN, Isabel A. S.. Exposure to violence in incarcerated youth from the city of São Paulo. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2011, vol.33, n.3, pp. 314-320.  Epub Apr 15, 2011. ISSN 1516-4446.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462011000300011.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine the extent of exposure to community violence among delinquent Brazilian youth in the 12-month period prior to their incarceration and to identify factors associated with this exposure. METHOD: With an oversampling of girls, a cross-section of youth under 18 years of age from juvenile detention units in the city of São Paulo, Brazil completed a structured interview. Key items related to exposure to violence (witnessed and experienced) were drawn from the Social and Health Assessment questionnaire to cover the 12-month period prior to incarceration. RESULTS: Participants (n = 325, 89% boys) reported high rates of exposure to violence with largely similar levels for boys and girls. Being threatened with physical harm, being beaten or mugged and/ or shot at were the most common forms of violence experienced. After controlling for demographic and family variables, the fact of having peers involved in risk behavior, easy access to guns and previous involvement with the justice system were associated with witnessed violence; whereas having slept on the street was the only variable associated with experienced violence. CONCLUSION: This group of youth was exposed to high levels of violence and other adverse experiences. Future research should examine the effectiveness of strategies aimed at reducing the exposure to violence of high-risk youth.

Keywords : Violence; Adolescent; Juvenile delinquency; Brazil; Human rights.

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