The Confluence of Mental Health and Psychopathic Traits in Adolescent Female Offenders

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Published in: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2010


The relation among psychopathic traits, violence, and mental health needs was investigated in a sample of juvenile offenders. Information was gathered from 100 youth offenders, 50 female and 50 male, committed to a state juvenile justice agency. Case file information was used to score the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV), and additional archival data were used to code offense and mental health variables. Female offenders scoring high on the PCL:YV, particularly the Lifestyle and Antisocial features, were more likely to have histories of psychiatric hospitalization, and a stronger relation between mental health needs and psychopathic traits was found among female compared with male offenders. The differential manifestation of psychopathic traits in female adolescents and relevant treatment implications are discussed.