Do past and present adverse experiences impact the mental health of children? A study among children in the Juvenile Justice System in India

Shiva Prakash Srinivasan*, Chiranjeevi Arumugam, Ananya Anandan, Padmavati Ramachandran

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Children in the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) in India include children who may have engaged in criminal acts and children who cannot be cared for by their families of origin for various reasons. Given the nature of the children in such circumstances, they face multiple challenges growing up. Few studies from India have systematically explored interpersonal experiences, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or bullying experiences, and their effects on these children’s mental health. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using standardized scales to identify the frequencies of and relationships between life experiences and current mental health outcomes (stress, well-being, and psychopathology) faced by children residing in seven child care institutions (CCIs) across two states in India. Results: Of the 278 children who participated in the study, at least one ACE was endorsed by 86.7%, and at least one instance of bullying was experienced by 71.7%. A significant negative correlation was noted between the number of ACEs, bullying experiences, and well-being and a significant positive correlation with stress and psychopathology. Information about the family of origin was significantly associated with lower psychopathology and stress scores. Conclusions: This study highlights the relationship between mental health outcomes, ACEs, and bullying experiences in children in the JJS in India. The study identifies the immediate and ongoing effects of these experiences on children’s mental health and, thus, focuses on the need for appropriate interventions to allay the effects of these experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-877
Number of pages9
JournalIndian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

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