The Limitations and Challenges of Conducting Forensic Mental Health Assessments With Female Youth

Candice Odgers, University of Virginia
Marlene M. Moretti, Simon Fraser University
N. Dickon Reppucci, University of Virginia

The lack of development and integration of knowledge regarding violence and aggression in girls represents a significant social and mental health challenge. Specifically, this research void hinders the development of beneficial preventative and assessment strategies for girls. With these limitations in mind, the issues that are associated with conducting forensic mental health assessments with female youth are examined. Particular attention will be paid to the current state of empirical research in the area and how existing information can be translated into the practice of conducting assessments with girls. Areas where assessment is not well supported will be highlighted and the steps that practitioners should take in light of these limitations will be outlined. Data that has been gathered through an empirical review of existing literature and the integration of findings from a newly emerging network of researchers focusing on gender and aggression will be utilized in order to evaluate the appropriateness of including traditional risk factors in forensic mental health assessments involving female youth. The impirical rational for including gender specific domains of risk will be evaluated through an examination of the key social, cultural and psychological factors that contribute to aggression and violence in girls.

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Updated 05/20/2006