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Crime and Delinquency


LGBTQ youth, and in particular those of color, are significantly more at risk for experiencing trauma at home and in their community, having school difficulties including bullying and suspensions, and subsequently being involved with the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Research is limited in understanding the pathways these young people take toward youthful and young adult offending and incarceration. The national longitudinal Add Health study data were used to explain how trauma, sexual orientation (gay, bisexual), school experiences, gender, and race impacted juvenile and adult criminal activity and incarceration—looking at a trauma-delinquency-crime link. It was found that females were more likely to experience childhood trauma if they were a person of color, poor, or bisexual; and these traumatic childhood experiences were all direct predictors of adult criminal activity, as was being bisexual or gay. While males were more likely to experience childhood trauma if they were a person of color or poor, but not if they were bisexual or gay, and these traumatic experiences and being bisexual (though not gay) also predicted juvenile delinquency, adult criminal activity, and adult incarceration. Implications and discussion of these and other researcher’s findings are set forth, as well as recommendations.