Violence risk among youth referred to a forensic mental health service

Dominique Denaro, Bruce Watt*, Tasneem Hasan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Youth who engage in serious aggressive, violent, or threatening behaviour pose a concern to others about their potential for future acts of violence. The current study investigates violence risk factors among young people referred to a child and youth forensic mental health service. The primary aim of this study is to examine the demographic, historical, and clinical characteristics of a sample of 91 young people in order to assess whether there are distinct groups or clusters that share common profiles. Using a two-step cluster analysis, three distinct clusters were found. Cluster 1 (generally non-violent, n = 34) comprises a subgroup with fewer family adversity factors and an absence of serious violence. Cluster 2 (early violence, n = 35) comprises a subgroup with serious violent histories, comorbid mental health disorders, and an early onset of behavioural difficulties. Cluster 3 (later violence, n = 19) includes young people with serious violent and antisocial histories, and a later onset of behavioural difficulties. The results of the study support the notion that youth referred for specialised violence risk assessments are a heterogeneous group with distinct individual differences. This has implications for determining the level of intervention and treatment required to reduce youth offending and violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-575
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number4
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017


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