To describe the reported experiences of 15- and 16-year-old boys on remand in a young offender institution (YOI) as told to a child psychiatrist. Nineteen remanded adolescents were interviewed using the Kiddie-Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia as part of a study. During the warm-up conversation prior to this semi-structured interview, the boys were given the opportunity to talk about their experiences of being in a YOI.
The boys described experiences of institutionalisation, including the deprivation of incarceration and the intimidation of a ‘macho-culture’, which on occasions verged on the abusive. Their responses are described.
An emotionally deprived prison environment that lacks appropriate care for children is likely to contribute to the very high levels of mental disorder known to exist in this population. A major reform of conditions for young prisoners has commenced since this study was conducted. The prison service and society as a whole must, however, ensure that the planned improved living conditions for children in prison are reached. Child psychiatry has a very important contribution to make by providing mental health care within prison institutions in order to engage young prisoners with mental health problems and their families.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.