Mental health problems and recidivism among detained male adolescents from various ethnic origins

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;22(8):481-90. doi: 10.1007/s00787-013-0384-z. Epub 2013 Feb 24.


This study examines differences in self-reported mental health problems between detained youths from Dutch, Moroccan, and Surinamese origin and the usefulness of mental health problems to predict violent and property recidivism in these juveniles. A sample of 296 detained boys aged between 12 and 18 years were assessed by means of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Official information regarding criminal history and recidivism was collected 3-6 years later. In general, Dutch youths and Surinamese youths reported more conduct problems than Moroccan youths, while Dutch youths also reported more hyperactivity than Surinamese youths. Mental health problems were not predictive of violent recidivism in any of the ethnic groups, while being related with property recidivism in Dutch and Surinamese youths. The current study showed that Moroccan youths present themselves on the SDQ as a less seriously disturbed group of youths than their Dutch and Surinamese counterparts. Our results also clearly showed that SDQ self-report scores are not predictive of future violent crimes in any of the three ethnic groups. Implications of the findings and limitations of the current study are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Health*
  • Morocco / ethnology
  • Netherlands / ethnology
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Self Report
  • Suriname / ethnology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires