Race bias in the diagnosis and disposition of violent adolescents

Am J Psychiatry. 1980 Oct;137(10):1211-6. doi: 10.1176/ajp.137.10.1211.


The authors compared psychiatric symptoms, violent behaviors, and medical histories of an entire one-year sample of adolescents from the same community who were sent either to the correctional school or the only state hospital adolescent psychiatric unit serving the area. The initial hypothesis that the incarcerated group would be equally disturbed but more violent than the hospitalized group was contradicted. Violence as well as severe psychiatric symptomatology was equally prominent in the two groups. The most powerful variables distinguishing the groups were race, accidents, and injuries (especially head injury), and sex. The medical and social implications of the findings are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Male
  • Prisons
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Violence*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology