Almost every young person in WA detention has a severe brain impairment

  • Written by Hayley M Passmore, PhD Candidate and Researcher, Telethon Kids Institute

Nine out of ten people in Western Australian youth detention are severely impaired in at least one area of brain function such as memory, language, attention, and executive function (planning and understanding consequences). Such deficits would strongly impact on their ability to conform with legal instructions, and with other aspects of the justice system such as being interviewed in court.

Our new research, conducted in WA’s only detention centre and published today in the journal BMJ Open, also found one in three of the young people assessed had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This is a lifelong and severe disorder of brain development that occurs as a result of exposure to alcohol in the womb. This is the highest known rate of FASD among any population involved in the justice system worldwide.

Read more: Indigenous youth with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder need Indigenous-run alternatives to prison

While we know damage to the brain occurs from prenatal exposure to alcohol with FASD, the causes of other impairments responsible for the high rate of functional deficits we found are complex. They can include accidents, infection and nutritional problems.

Most impairments had never been recognised or managed appropriately by any of the agencies these young people had previously been involved with – including health, education and child protection services. We recommend every individual be comprehensively assessed at first contact with the justice system, and provided with a management plan for effective intervention.

Who are the young people in detention?

Our team from the Telethon Kids Institute assessed 99 youths in detention for nine areas of function. These were: academic function (such as reading, writing, spelling and maths), attention and sensory processing, executive function, language, memory and learning, motor skills, cognition (intellectual ability), brain structure (determined by a clinical investigation), and daily living skills (adaptive function).

Adaptive function is difficult to assess in detention settings, so the levels reported here are an underestimate.

Almost every young person in WA detention has a severe brain impairment Telethon Kids Institute The assessments were conducted by a paediatrician, neuropsychologist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist. A research officer also collected background health, education and well-being information from multiple sources. We found, regardless of whether the young person had FASD, 89% were severely impaired in at least one area of functioning. Some 65% were impaired in three or more areas. While the majority of the participants in the study (74%) were Aboriginal, the impairments were found across all young people. Many participants displayed problems with remembering and recalling information, such as struggling to remember instructions. Others had difficulty understanding what was being said to them and being able to express themselves verbally, focusing their attention and being able to switch focus between tasks when required. Impairments may come across in behaviours with young people appearing wilfully naughty, defiant, or lazy, when in reality they may been be struggling to remember, understand or comprehend what is required of them. Many of the young people had a history of trauma, early school disengagement and early substance misuse. It is likely the extensive amount of impairment, along with poor mental and physical health, histories of trauma, and the lack of adequate processes in place to support them, is contributing significantly to the high rates of youth crime and the increase in serious incidents in Australian detention centres. The end of the line Juvenile detention is currently the end of the line for the most vulnerable, injured and disadvantaged young people who may have repeatedly slipped through cracks in the systems responsible for their welfare. For instance, of the 36 young people we diagnosed as having FASD, only two had previously been diagnosed. These young people may have avoided the justice system altogether if such issues had been identified early and appropriate support put in place. We recommend each young person be assessed upon entry into the justice system, and preferably much earlier. Our study’s assessment process gave us an understanding of each young person’s cognitive strengths and difficulties, which was useful for the youths, their families and those working with them. If more programs and services were based around the strengths of these young people, this may lead to better education and employment opportunities and a more hopeful future. Read more: Young offenders must be screened for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders before sentencing We also found juvenile justice staff, at least in WA, are enthusiastic for research-informed training to provide appropriate support for young people in their care. Equipping all staff who work with these vulnerable young people (be it in detention, community justice, education, child protection or health settings) with knowledge, resources and support is critical for the well-being of everyone involved. We also need to take a national approach to this problem, sharing our knowledge of what works, so government and researchers can move forward together to inform best practice nationwide.

Authors: Hayley M Passmore, PhD Candidate and Researcher, Telethon Kids Institute

Read more http://theconversation.com/almost-every-young-person-in-wa-detention-has-a-severe-brain-impairment-90695

Australia Today

could someone take ownership of a planet or a moon?

Melissa de Zwart, Professor, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide

This is an article from I’ve Always Wondered, a series where readers send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. Send your question to alwayswondered@theconversation.edu.auI have always wondered, in a distant future when humanity is able to settle permanently on a distant body (su...

Read more

Fewer Australian university students than ever before believe in creationism

Mike Archer, Professor, Pangea Research Centre, UNSW

The dominant belief among Australian university students now is that God had no hand in creating or developing humans.www.shutterstock.comAustralian university students appear to give far more credit to the science of human evolution and far less to creationism or divine guidance than the previous g...

Read more

Are Australian bridges safe, and can we do better?

Colin Caprani, Senior Lecturer, Structural Engineering, Monash University

There are more than 50,000 public bridges in Australia. (The Sea Cliff bridge is one Australia's newer bridges, built in 2005).from shutterstock.comAfter the tragedy in the Italian city Genoa, where a highway bridge collapsed killing more than 40 people, nations seem to be taking stock of the mainte...

Read more

Research shows 'merit' is highly subjective and changes with our values

Sue Williamson, Lecturer, Human Resource Management, UNSW Canberra, UNSW

Selection panels interrupt women more than men and ask them more follow-up questions, subtly questioning their competence.Andrey Popov/ShutterstockWho is meritorious, what constitutes merit, and how merit and gender targets can operate together are widely misunderstood questions, as our new research...

Read more

Fierravanti-Wells resigns from ministry, accusing Turnbull of ignoring Liberal party's conservative base

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has quit the frontbench, delivering a swingeing attack on Malcolm Turnbull for ignoring the Liberals’ conservative base.In her resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Fierravanti-Wells reminded hi...

Read more

Labor now does politics better than the Liberals

Geoffrey Robinson, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

Happy days: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in parliament.AAP/Mick TsikasThe obverse of the current crisis in Australian conservative politics is the resilience of the Australian left.The Labor Party has twice climbed off the canvas after dramatic political setbacks: the Rudd-Gillard civil war and th...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women

Heba Shaheed, The Pelvic Expert, shares her personal story and expert tips for living with endo... First National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women   The announcement of the first...

Pre - summer pampering: Australian women are detoxifying themselves in the most “kind-Ly” fashion!

In today’s society we are completely exposed to materials, products and chemicals which we unfortunately have no clue if it’s origins, meaning and purpose. Getting back to basics...

Eye Health Dos and Don'ts

Most people take their eyes for granted and spend little to no time thinking about their eye health until they notice something wrong. This leads to plenty of common and...

Non-invasive Cosmetic Treatments

In a world where everyone is chasing perfection, plastic surgeries have become more and more common to the point where it’s odd if you don’t get one during your life...

My Health Yoga

Carrie-Anne Fields of My Health Yoga has taken her Gold Coast yoga teacher training worldwide. She started her health business 20 years ago aged 22 and has grown into a...

Fit Body 101 - Increase Your Fitness Effectiveness

You have to find some space for physical exercise in your weekly schedule in order to live a good life. Embracing this way of life is very beneficial because it...

LIFE STYLE

Add a little colour to your move - and life!

How a little ‘colour’ and planning can take your Move, and make it a more enjoyable one Colour plays a huge role in our lives, it can take us up, or...

6 Simple Rules for Redesigning Your Kitchen

How do you feel about your kitchen? Well, if you feel like your home needs a bit of lifting up, one of the best and most effective places to start...

Dog Flea Allergy

Severe itchy skin disease in dogs causes Flea bite hypersensitivity. The itch is as a result of an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea which is injected into...

5 Ways to Turn Your Bedroom into a True Zen Retreat

The bedroom should be our little sanctuary where we come to relax after a long day of work. However, in order to be able to unwind all the accumulated stress...

Things to Consider when Deciding on your Wedding Flowers for the Big Day

Choosing the wedding flowers is a complicated process where you have to take into account many elements, from the wedding dress to the wedding theme. You can discover in this...

Renovating tips for your house

There are very few property owners who move into a house where they don’t want to make any changes. Alterations are almost inevitable every time you move-house, but alterations can...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...