Childhood Trauma, Substance Abuse, and Criminality

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Yi-Wen Chen, BS1
Mei-Chuan Liu, BS1
Jui-Ying Feng, DNS, PNP1
Ming-Chu Feng, MSN, RN2
1Department of Nursing, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
2Department of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the prevalence of childhood traumatic experiences among male inmates in Taiwan.

Learning Objective 2: The learners will be able to understand the potential contributing factors to criminal behaviors for male inmates in Taiwan.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of childhood victimization and traumatic life events for adult male inmates.

Methods: A convenience sampling was used in this descriptive, cross-sectional study to recruit 774 male inmates arrested for illicit drug use from a prison in southern Taiwan.

Results: The majority of participants were single or divorce (79%), heterosexual orientation(94%), and had a history of sexual transmitted disease(87%). About 72% of participants were incarcerated in jail for over 1 year. The most common drugs used were Heroin (74%) and Amphetamine (71%). Curiosity (57%) was the major reason for their first time using substance, followed by friends’ instigation (10%), and feeling blue (7%). Most experienced childhood victimization or traumatic life events on the age of 14 to 17. Twenty-six percent experienced a serious physical assault, and 13.4% experienced insults and criticism to make them felt themselves bad, stupid and worthless. A quarter of participants perceived that these assaults were disciplines and were reasonable and justified. Sixteen participants were forced to touch others’ private parts, and 12 were coerced to have sexual intercourse. Thirty-two participants chose not to disclose this sexual experience.

Conclusion: Most serious childhood abuse for our participants happened in their adolescence, which may aggravate their deviated behaviors for this particular age. The gravity of the problem of male victims being the silent sexual victims cannot be overlooked.