Mental health and traumatic stress symptoms are prevalent in juvenile offenders, yet research on diversion programs rarely examine these important outcomes. Program duration and the role of protective factors are also understudied in this literature. This study examined the impact of program duration and youth protective factors on mental health and traumatic stress symptoms of 713 youth participating in an Illinois diversion program. Overall, the more time youth spent in the diversion program, the more improvement they demonstrated in mental health and trauma symptoms. Both program duration and number of youth strengths at program entry were significantly associated with improvement in mental health and traumatic stress symptoms. Findings highlight the importance of program duration and suggest that youth protective factors should be identified early on and targeted to maximize the impact of juvenile justice diversion programs on mental health and trauma symptoms.
- juvenile offenders
- mental illness
- protective factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine