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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 2, 87 - 96

New research

Girls detained under civil and criminal law in juvenile detention centres; psychiatric disorders, trauma and psychosocial problems

S.M.J.J. Hamerlynck, L.M.C. Jansen, Th.A.H. Doreleijers, R.R.J.M. Vermeiren, P.T. Cohen-Kettenis

background As from 2008, juveniles sentenced under civil law and juveniles sentenced under criminal law can no longer be assigned to the same juvenile detention centres. The reasoning runs as follows: the centres are unlikely to provide adequate treatment for the 'civil' group, and the 'criminal' group may exert a negative influence on the 'civil' group. Hitherto, there has been no research into the question of whether the problems and treatment requirements of girls in the two categories call for detention in the same detention centres or in different ones.
aim The aim of this study is to investigate differences between the two groups of girls with regard to offence history, sociodemographic characteristics, contact with the social services, psychiatric disorders and trauma.
method Investigation of a representative sample of 211 female minors in three juvenile detention centres using standard instruments.
results 82% of the girls were detained under civil law, 18% under criminal law. There were strong similarities between the groups. However, the 'criminal' group more often had a violent history of delinquency and a non-Dutch background, whereas the 'civil' group more often had a background of residential placements, oppositional-defiant disorder, suicidality and self-harm.
conclusions Girls detained under civil and under criminal law differed in characteristics such as criminal record, but there were striking similarities in the girls' behavioural problems and psychiatric disorders. It is argued that assignment to a particular type of detention centre should depend on treatment requirements rather than on measures imposed by civil or criminal law.

keywords detention, girls, juvenile detention centres, psychiatric disorders auteurs