Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument Usage


Anxiety and depression affect individuals every all strata of society including children and adults, criminals and law-abiding citizens. Psychologists have long searched for a definitive explanation for anxiety and depression, as well as a definitive method of measuring these psychological disorders in offender populations.

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Spielberger (1972) defined anxiety as a complex psychological cluster of cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components that together create an unpleasant feeling of apprehension, or worry. Spielberger (1972) also characterized anxiety as comprised of both temporary or state elements, as well as more widespread and consistent elements, or trait characteristics. Spielberger (1972) attributed anxiety as the overall result of specific characteristics of personality traits that influence an individual’s behavior; these include habitual behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.

Some theorists believe anxiety to be the confluence of several different childhood experiences that continue into adulthood. Theorists including Sullivan, Leary, Kiesler, Spielberger, Bonta and Andrews have attempted to locate one specific and definitive measure or hypothesis with which to study anxiety effectively; however, as of 2011, none have yet been successful. Meanwhile, others theorists have attempted to expand upon previous theories to explain the cause of anxiety; however, as of 2011, no consensus among theorists exists.

Messier and Ward (1998) defined depression as a psychological disorder that affects an individual’s mood, social interactions, and physical functions. Bradshaw and Dia (2008) pointed to the important role that “negative affectivity” plays in the development of anxiety and depression in adolescents (p. 476).

In the case of many juvenile offenders, the anger and aggression that often leads to criminal activity can itself stem from anxiety experienced in the social context. Arslan (2009) described the classic case of juvenile anger triggered by anxiety herein:

Adolescents are angered when their physical or social activities are prevented or in the case of an attack on their personalities, positions, or status in society. An adolescent may display anger when he or she is criticized, embarrassed, underestimated, or ignored and perceive such situations as threats to his/her already extremely sensitive personality (p. 555).

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Thus, a complex interplay exists between anxiety, depression, criminal behavior, and recidivism, particularly in young offenders with antisocial personal disorder. The current study intends to investigate the relationship between anxiety, depression and criminal behavior and activity in juvenile offenders, using the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument Version-2 or MAYSI-2 to quantify anxiety and depression in both first time young offenders and repeat young offenders. The goal of the study is to determine the effectiveness of the MAYSI-2 in predicting the likelihood of the juvenile offender committing a second or third offense, based on the analysis of the MAYSI-2 results. This researcher seeks to employ the criminogenic need principle in order to determine the contribution that anxiety and depression make to the tendency for recidivism in juvenile offenders.


There are many different psychological tests and assessment tools used to measure anxiety. Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg and Jacobs (1983) developed one of the most common measuring tools that researchers use to study and appraise anxiety in individuals, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. This unidimensional tool gauges anxiety as a distinct or global psychological structure and has been used widely since its invention (Spielberger et al., 1983). The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory will be discussed in detail in the literature review.

In order to measure anxiety in children and adolescents, another example of a commonly used measuring tool is the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument Version-2, or MAYSI-2, which is an assessment tool that measures many different scales including both anxiety and depression in juveniles (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). This test is an assessment tool that measures immediate mental health needs of juveniles each time they enter the Juvenile Justice System (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). San Diego County Probations implemented the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument Version-2 (MAYSI-2), upon a juvenile’s intake in 2009 to help identify juveniles who may be in psychological distress, or who self-report behaviors that are higher then those reported by their peers (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). The MAYSI-2 uses yes and no format, and high scores on the depression/anxiety scale which measures the experiences that cause depressed and anxious feelings, the risk of impairments in motivation, and the need for treatment and also indicates symptoms of depression and anxiety (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). An individual who scores low may indicate an emotional reaction to immediate events where as individuals that score medium and high scores may indicate enduring problems (Grisso & Barnum, 2000).

Background of the Study

The California Family Code defines a juvenile as “any person who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violates any law of this state, or of the United States, or any ordinance of any city or county” (2009 California Family Code, 2009). Juveniles that offend and internalize conflict tend to act out; therefore, they tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression (Grisso & Barnum, 2000).

When juveniles are booked in to the juvenile detention center, each juvenile offender is administered the MAYSI-2 (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). A juvenile is administered the MAYSI-2 on their first offense; a juvenile commits his or her first offense once her or she has been convicted for the first time of an offense against the law. Juveniles are also administered the MAYSI-2 when and if they return to juvenile detention center on multiple offenses; once a juvenile has committed two or more previous crimes, he or she will be defined as a repeat offender (Grisso & Barnum, 2000).

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Mental health professionals use the MAYSI-2 assessment tool to analyze the different scores that juvenile offender record upon entrance into the juvenile detention center (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). Juvenile mental health professionals will pay attention to the warning and caution levels determined by the MAYSI-2 in order to ascertain the cases that require immediate attention (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). Low scores in anxiety and depression can predict whether an individual is more likely to commit more crimes; this interpretation also concurs with the finding based on the criminogenic need principle (Bonta & Andrews, 1998; Grisso & Barnum, 2000). The criminogenic need principle states that criminogenic individuals with low anxiety and depression traits tend to be repeat offenders, whereas non-criminogenic people with high anxiety and depression scores demonstrate a normal reaction and may possibly commit one crime or no crimes (Bonta & Andrews, 1998). Therefore, instead of assessing high levels of depression and anxiety traits, juveniles entering the juvenile detention center need to be screened for low anxiety and depression traits. In this way, intervention strategies that target repeat juvenile offenders may provide immediate help and prevent future offenses, based on the criminogenic need principle (Bonta & Andrews, 1998).

Statement of the Problem

As of 2011, juvenile offenders that enter juvenile detention facilities are screened for mental health problems using three levels on the MAYSI-2 assessment tool (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). Bonta and Andrews (1998) argued that offenders who demonstrate low levels of anxiety and depression are more likely to reoffend due to static and dynamic traits, as per the criminogenic need principle. This differs from offenders with high levels of anxiety and depression traits, since that is considered a more normal reaction and indicates a higher likelihood that the offender will not commit another crime (Bonta and Andrews, 1998). Therefore, in order to prevent criminogenic individuals from reoffending and ending up back in the juvenile facilities, mental health professionals in the Juvenile Justice System must look at juvenile offenders that record low scores in anxiety and depression. Mental health professionals in the Juvenile Justice System use the MAYSI-2 results more fruitfully when they immediately treat the low anxiety and depression group, rather than the individuals who record high scores on the anxiety and depression spectrum.


Chapter I introduces the subject of the research and provides a brief description of the psychological disorders anxiety and depression, as defined by the theorists Spielberger and Messier and Ward. The first chapter also introduces some of the theorists that will be discussed at length in the dissertation, including Sullivan, Leary, Kiesler, Spielberger, Bonta and Andrews. Chapter I includes a description of psychological measurement and assessment tools, including the MAYSI-2, the assessment tool that will be the focus of the study. Finally, Chapter I contains the background of the study and the statement of the problem, and describes the need for mental health professionals who work with juveniles must focus treatment on the young offenders that score a low level of anxiety and depression on the MAYSI-2, as these at-risk youth at more likely to reoffend and return to the juvenile detention center.

Literature Review

In the study of children and adolescents who encounter the Juvenile Justice System, historically the goal of research has been to intervene at a critical stage in the young person’s social and psychological development and “catch” these young offenders before they fall into the cycle of repeated offenses and repeated incarceration as adults. Research has shown that anxiety and depression combined with specific personality traits prove to be accurate indicators of criminal behavior and serial offenses (Bonta & Andrews, 1998; Bonta & Andrews, 2007; Braithwaite, Coles & Greene, 2002).

Anxiety and depression can be overwhelming experiences in young people, particularly those whose social environments expose them to aggression and violence regularly (Braithwaite, Coles & Greene, 2002). In the experience of anxiety, both the body and the mind become engaged. Iverach, Menzies, O’Brian, Packman and Onslow (2011) explained that the “experience of anxiety can include thoughts and expectancies of negative events, escape or avoidance of feared situations, and physical sensations such as muscle tension and heart palpitations” (p. 221).

Braithwaite, Coles and Greene (2002) posited that the experience of anxiety seemed to have a “statistically significant relationship” with certain personality types; however, the researchers cautioned that “personality variables contribute to understanding only a subgroup of this population…not the majority of the population” (p. 406). Braithwaite, Coles and Greene (2002) also determined a statistical correlation between juveniles with “higher long-standing anxious feelings [and] anger expression and trait anger” (p. 406). Thus, Braithwaite, Coles and Greene (2002) concluded that juveniles who are “affectively reactive” showed a higher rate of delinquency, and that the “nature of this reactivity is chronic” (p. 406).

Theories of Anxiety

Karen Horney’s concept of basic anxiety states that anxiety is “to be viewed as arising from negative early developmental experiences that subsequently make interpersonal relationships difficult and a child’s insecurity and doubt when a parent is indifferent, unloving, or disparaging” (Horney, 1939, p. 71). Horney’s theories view the individual as consciously or unconsciously using anxiety to manipulate others into his or her service or to avoid onerous demands. The symptoms reflect the social context in which individuals find themselves (Hjertaas, 2009). Horney’s (1939) theory of anxiety involves:

Feeling[s] of helplessness toward a potentially hostile world [wherein] the environment is dreaded as a whole because it is felt to be unreliable, mendacious, unappreciative, unfair, unjust, begrudging, and merciless…the child not only fears punishment or desertion because of forbidden drives, but he feels the environment as a menace to his entire development and to his most legitimate wishes and strivings. He fears in danger of his individuality being obliterated, his freedom away.. In an environment in which basic anxiety develops, the child’s free use of energies thwarted, his self-esteem and self- reliance are undermined” (p. 151).

In other words, Horney (1939) believes that anxiety develops through certain childhood situations. If a juvenile experienced a childhood filled with emotional hardships, insecurity, fear, physical or psychological threat, and a consistent lack of control over his or her environment, then basic anxiety was likely to develop (Horney, 1939).

Another theory of anxiety proposed was by theorist Harry Stack Sullivan in the decade between 1930 and 1940. Sullivan (1964) asserted that the origin of anxiety was the reaction to interpersonal relationships; the theorist characterized anxiety as a maladaptive response to disruptive relationships caused by others. Sullivan (1964) stated that, “the interpersonal induction of anxiety, and the exclusively interpersonal origin of every instance of its manifestation is the unique characteristic of anxiety” (p. 238). According to Sullivan (1964), anxiety is the experience of a loss of the sense of security, of the threat of such loss. Anxiety is the “acquired, learned, interpersonal integration reflecting the disapproval of actual or fantasized others” (Sullivan, 1964, p. 238). Sullivan (1964) depicted certain techniques that individuals employ to defend themselves from anxiety. The most well know of these is selective inattention, wherein the child learns to limit his or awareness in order to avoid the feelings and situations that produce anxiety (Sullivan, 1964). As the child develops, he or she repeats this technique in all uncomfortable situations, in essence “tuning out” stressful events and relationships (Sullivan, 1964).

Unfortunately, Sullivan’s hypothesis of anxiety has never been fully formulated, largely due to a lack of proper assessment tools and an ineffective methodological design. The design in question proved to be incapable of addressing both the importance of interpersonal relationships and the reciprocal influence of anxiety. Sullivan (1964) believed psychiatry is the study of what goes on between people, and that relationships are the primary catalysts for psychiatric problems. As a result, personality cannot be observed or studied independent of the interpersonal situations where it manifests. Sullivan (1964) believed the only way personality manifests itself is through interpersonal interactions, which encompass all types of contact between people. Since relationships usually involve some level of interdependence, what the researcher must focus on is not the individual person, but the interpersonal situation that surrounds that person (Sullivan, 1953). For all the above reasons, Sullivan (1953) asserted, anxiety is contagious, and individuals can develop it from the relationships in which they spend the greatest amount of time. In addition, Sullivan (1953) posited that if a caregiver is anxious, the possibility exists for him or her to pass anxiety on to the child under his or her charge.

Although Sullivan’s hypothesis was never formulated, other theorists based their anxiety own hypotheses on Sullivan’s ideas. Leary (1957), attempted to develop Sullivan’s theory into an explicit behavioral map that would reflect the social nature of behavior. Then, using both Leary and Sullivan’s theories of anxiety, Kiesler (1986) and his colleagues emphasized the importance of relationships, studied individual differences, and created the empirically based Interpersonal Circle (Kiesler, 1986; Leary, 1957). The Interpersonal Circle conceptualizes, organizes, and assesses interpersonal behavior traits, and motives, and has two axes. The first axis describes a person who conveys status, dominance, control, and power; the second axis describes a person who conveys clear or strong messages consisting of love, warmth, friendliness, and solidarity (Kiesler, 1986). Leary (1957) argued that all other dimensions of personality can be viewed as a blending of these two axes, and that every human trait can be mapped as a vector coordinate within the Interpersonal Circle. Furthermore, Kiesler (1986) proposed that there are two kinds of individual differences: warmth and love, and status and dominance. Kiesler (1986) posited that these two types of individual differences operate simultaneously within respondents and actors (Kiesler, 1986).

Adler (1958) believed that experiences of hate and neglect influence the formation of an individual’s life. Adler (1958) wrote, “the child does not experience a sense of fellow-feeling but believes himself or herself to be a stranger in an enemy territory” (Adler, 1958, p. 68). Adler (1958) understood that “ambivalent handling by the mother discourages or prevents the development of a feeling of security, [and] may create for the child insurmountable difficulties in developing a feeling of his growing powers, and so bring about a greater feeling of inferiority” (Adler, 1958, p. 68). Overall, the early experiences of anxiety, feelings of inferiority, and neglect would have a profound impact on a young child, resulting in anxiety later in life and thus affecting the individual’s future reactions and relationships (Adler, 1958).

In 1986, Wright and Ingraham tested Kiesler’s Interpersonal Circle Model alongside their Social Relations Model. The Social Relations Model consists of three parts: actor, partner, and relationship effects (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). The actor effect represents a person’s average level of a given behavior in the presence of a variety of partners; the partner effect represents the average level of a response, which a person elicits from a variety of partners (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). Lastly, the relationship effect represents a person’s behavior toward another individual in particular, above and beyond their actor and partner effects (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). By using the Social Relations Model approach to test Sullivan’s anxiety hypothesis and integrating the study of individual differences and transactions as hypothesized by Kiesler, Ingraham and Wright (1987) found transaction effects for Kiesler’s affiliation dimension, which was consistent with Sullivan’s reciprocal theorem of emotions.

Ingraham and Wright (1987) demonstrated the promise of a Social Relationship Model approach to testing Sullivan’s anxiety hypothesis, as well as the value of integrating the study of individual differences and transactions as proposed by Kiesler (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). The Social Relations Model measures individual differences for a given behavior (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). Individuals with anxiety differ systematically in how much anxiety they experience and the tendency in which it increases and decreases; therefore, this model provides a means to test Sullivan’s hypothesis that anxiety is primarily an interpersonal state rather than a state that reflects individual differences (Ingraham &Wright, 1987). The results of the Social Relationship Model supported both the effects of relationships and individual differences in anxiety (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). Sullivan’s hypothesis was supported by relationships in anxiety, as relationships in both studies contributed a significant portion of variance (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). However, the part of Sullivan’s hypothesis that was not fully supported was that anxiety is exclusively a function of relationships, rather than individual differences (Ingraham & Wright, 1987). In order to foster increased understanding of the different models, more studies are needed to specify the conditions in which relationship and individual differences are differentially important in anxiety (Ingraham & Wright, 1987).

Still more research must be done to clarify the types of relationships involved and which spheres of mutual influence operate in anxiety (Ingraham & Wright, 1987).

Spielberger (1966) proposed another theory of anxiety known as the State-Trait Anxiety Theory. Spielberger (1972) defines state anxiety as the individual’s introspective verbal report that he or she feels anxious; in this theory, characteristics of personality traits comprise anxiety. This theory emphasizes the threat to self-esteem or personal adequacy aspects of trait anxiety.

The State-Trait Anxiety Theory is based on the supposition that the degree to which a person demonstrates a particular characteristic depends on four factors: the type of situation wherein certain responses manifest, the type and number of responses exhibited, the length and intensity of the response, and the provocativeness of the situations in the specific responses (Spielberger, 1972).

Spielberger (1966) also developed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, or STAI. The STAI is an assessment tool used to measure a person anxiety experience (Spielberger, 1966). The STAI takes under 20 minutes to complete and includes two anxiety indicators: the first, State Anxiety, contain 10 items and the second, Trait Anxiety, contains 10 items also. Researchers using the STAI to measure anxiety for high school students of both genders found it to show an alpha reliability coefficient of.90 (Spielberger & Sydeman, 1994, p. 298). Specifically, the STAI produced alpha coefficients of.86 for males and.94 for females (Spielberger & Sydeman, 1994, pp. 298). Spielberger (1994) advises that STAI remains receptive to the test conditions – particularly applicable in conditions of incarceration – and that the emotions generated by this experience can be demonstrated in the test results.

In conclusion, Spielberger (1972) argued that the appropriate assessment of anxiousness requires the two responses that characterize anxiousness and the situation that arouses them. Spielberger’s (1972) work contributed to the further study and framework of anxiety and showed the need to consider the situation when evaluating test scores. Additionally, Spielberger (1972) found that the individual’s introspective verbal report that they feel anxious defines the state of anxiety; anxiety is an empirical sense used to denote a complex reaction or response. Spielberger (1972) also speculated that early childhood experiences influence the development of individual differences in Trait, and some people experience greater State arousal in threat situations then others (Spielberger, 1972).

Another study into the nature of anxiety was conducted by the researchers Beck, Emery, and Greenberg (1985). Their writings originate from a cognitive-behavioral perspective. Beck, Emery, and Greenberg (1985) objected to the classical differentiation between fear and anxiety. Beck, Emery, and Greenberg (1985) proposed that anxiety was a primal emotion, related to, but separate from, associated cognitions, and was evolutionarily engineered to preserve one’s existence from such threats as abandonment and estrangement. Beck, Emery, and Greenberg (1985) believed anxiety arises from the limbic system of the brain, and that the state of anxiety can be influenced by verbal cognition, but also remains separate from verbal cognition. Moreover, irrational anxiety might not make sense to the person experiencing it, especially when the experiencing being is a child (Beck, Emery, & Greenberg, 1985).

Bradshaw and Dia (2008) conducted an exploratory study to investigate “cognitive risk factors, anxiety sensitivity, and positive and negative affect, as related to the development of anxiety and depression” in adolescents (p. 469). Bradshaw and Dia (2008) employed research that understood “the broad and unified variable of anxiety sensitivity as a predictor of anxiety” (p. 469). The study distinguished four different elements of “anxiety sensitivity: mental incapacitation concerns, social concerns, disease concerns, and unsteady concerns” and assessed them in relation to anxiety and depression (Bradshaw and Dia, 2008, p. 469). The researchers found that these four factors provided “good convergent validity and improved divergent validity,” as opposed to operating from the belief that anxiety is a single psychological construct (Bradshaw and Dia, 2008, p. 469). Bradshaw and Dia (2008) pointed to the “importance of the role of negative affectivity in anxiety and depression” (p. 469). The researchers posited that mental health professionals who become “aware of the components of anxiety sensitivity and how they relate to specific anxiety disorders can” deliver a diagnosis more effectively (Bradshaw and Dia, 2008, p. 469).

Juvenile Delinquents and Anxiety

Borum, Chapman, Ford, Pearson and Wolpaw (2008) observed that nearly 2.5 million juvenile arrests occur each year; more than half of these children and adolescents manifest one or more psychiatric disorders. Juveniles in detention do have the right to receive mental health services; however, the majority of children and adolescents in the Juvenile Justice System “are not screened or assessed for potential mental health concerns [and]…screening and assessment procedures are not standardized” (Borum et al., 2008, p. 88)

In California, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over all the youths charged with most violations that are below the age of 18 at the time of the offense, arrest, or referral to court (2009 California Family Code, 2009). The California family code states:

Any person who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violates any law of this state or of the United States or any ordinance of any city or county of this state defining crime other than an ordinance establishing a curfew based solely on age, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge such person to be a ward of the court (2009 California Family Code, 2009).

Juveniles experiencing anxiety manifest impairments on many different fronts, resulting in interpersonal problems, social impairment, and problems related to their peers (McClure, Parrish, Nelson, Easter, Thorne, Rilling, Ernst & Pine, 2007). In addition, juvenile delinquents appear to have different experiences with negative emotions as compared to their peers. The emotions differ in both static and trait conditions. Juveniles with low anxiety and depression are more likely to show low levels of emotional awareness (Plattner, Karnik, Jo, Hall, Schallauer, Carrion, Feucht & Steiner, 2007). Emotional traits are an enduring emotional pattern for a person; these acute responses to particular stimuli represent only specific reactions during specific moments in time. Delinquent juveniles show higher levels of negative state emotions and negative trait emotions compared to their peers (Clarbour, Roger, Miles & Monaghan, 2009). They experience state-trait anxiety, which is related to internalization of conflicts within a group of delinquents, while social anxieties are related to measures of emotional symptoms (Clarbour, Roger, Miles, & Monaghan, 2009).

Bonta and Andrews (1998) caution that the understanding of delinquency needs to be distinct from that of criminality. Delinquency is illegal, depraved, or abnormal behavior that contravenes the values of society, whereas criminality pertains specifically to the infringement of societal laws. Therefore, when researchers measure the criminal behaviour of juveniles, their goal is practical. They hope to predict and prevent the future breaking of laws, not necessarily prevent delinquency (Bonta and Andrews, 1998).


Thomas Grisso and Richard Barnum created the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Version 2 (MAYSI-2) in 1998 for use by juvenile justice agencies to identify signs of mental and emotional disturbance in the delinquent population (Grisso & Barnum 2000). The MAYSI-2 was developed in four phases: from 1994 to 1996, the authors developed items and conducted pilot testing (Grisso & Barnum 2000). In the second phase, from 1996 to 1998, efforts focused on finalizing scale content, establishing norms from a large sample in Massachusetts, examining psychometric properties, and identifying cutoff scores (Grisso & Barnum 2000). In the third phase, 1998 to 1999, the authors reexamined the data from the normative sample and produced the first manual for the MAYSI-2 (Grisso & Barnum 2000). The final phase, from 2000 to 2002, centered on dissemination, assisting the implementation of the test, and furthering research studies (Grisso & Barnum 2000). Initial item development was informed by the empirical and clinical literature in adolescent psychopathology ((Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent & Grisso, 2004). Items and scales were developed by a research team with the exception of items assessing depression, which were taken with permission directly from the Weinberg Screening Affective Scales (Grisso & Barnum 2000). Experts in adolescent psychopathology reviewed initial items, and revisions were made before a small sample of youth provided additional suggestions to make items more comprehensible to the target population (Grisso & Barnum 2000). This process generated the final set of 52 items (Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent & Grisso, 2004). The authors also administered the measure to 50 youth using two different formats (yes/no and 5-point Likert-type scales) and determined that the dichotomous format was adequate for alerting personnel to urgent needs in this population (Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent & Grisso, 2004). Besides the other testing, pilot testing with 176 Massachusetts adolescents provided further evidence of internal consistency (Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent, Grisso, 2004). Finally, with data from a large normative sample from Massachusetts, the authors subjected the nine scales derived from theory to factor analysis (Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent, Grisso, 2004). Although an eight-factor solution was found, only seven factors were retained with slightly different items; a few more scales were included for boys than girls, and the Thought Disturbance scale was omitted for girls (Grisso & Barnum 2000; Lexcen, Vincent, & Grisso 2004).

As a result of all the studies, the MAYSI-2 is now a brief screening, self-report tool that identifies signs of emotional and mental disturbance or distress. The MAYSI-2 provides guidance to administrators in youth facilities, as the assessment alerts them to juveniles who need immediate mental health services and monitoring upon entrance into the Juvenile Justice System (Grisso & Barnum 2000). The test also enables professionals in the mental health field to provide further queries for at risk juveniles upon reading their responses. The MAYSI-2 has a fifth grade reading level, or juveniles can listen to the questions on tape. There is no total score for the MAYSI-2; instead, each subtest is added up and compared to cut-off scores (Grisso & Barnum 2000). Furthermore, the MAYSI-2 takes roughly 15 minutes to administer, and can be given up to 48-hours after admission into the Juvenile Justice System (Grisso & Barnum 2000). The MAYSI-2 therefore measures a juvenile’s immediate needs upon entering juvenile detention center, and the timing allows for the assessment of both chronic mental and emotional disturbance and current distress in response to the youth’s recent experiences, including involvement with the Juvenile Justice System (Lexcen, Vincent & Grisso 2004). The Depressed and Anxious Scale analyzes the experiences that caused depressed and anxious feelings, the risk of impairments in motivation, and the need for treatment (Grisso & Barnum, 2000). In addition, this scale also measures the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Low scores measure an emotional reaction to immediate events, whereas higher scores and warning scores measure enduring problems (Grisso & Barnum, 2000).

Criminogenic Needs

Andrew and Bonta (1998) propose four expansive definitions of criminal behavior: legal, referring to actions forbidden by the state and carrying a punishment under the law; moral, actions that breach moral or religious values, deemed punishable by a god; social criminal behavior, actions that contravene traditional values which lead to punishment by the community, and psychological criminal behavior, actions that provide pleasure or power to the criminal while causing pain to the victim – this latter form best describes antisocial personality disorder.

Andrews and Bonta (1998) also suggested that serious offenders are high in aggression and low in anxiety. People with criminogenic traits are more likely to commit multiple offenses, whereas offenders with non-criminogenic traits tend to stick to the norms; they may commit one crime but will not reoffend (Andrews & Bonta, 1998). Criminogenic needs attribute to predictive criminal behavior, while non-criminogenic needs attribute to the least amount of offending behaviors. Criminogenic needs can be static or unchanging factors like gender, age, and offending history, or criminogenic needs can be dynamic, which highlights the potential for change, including attitudes, peer affiliation, and validation (Vieira et al., 2009.). Criminogenic needs are dynamic attributes of offenders; when their circumstances change, reduced rates of recidivism are associated (Bonta & Andrews, 1998). Non-criminogenic needs are static attributes of offenders such as like low self-esteem and anxiety. When the offender’s circumstances change, these changes do not produce reduced recidivism (Ward and Stewart, 2003). Criminogenic needs are identified through detection of variables that convey criminal conduct. Bonta & Andrews (1998) suggest that once criminogenic needs have been identified, researchers can build etiological theories that aim to explain why these factors are associated with criminal actions. The likelihood that an offender will engage in harmful behavior in the future increases as a result of criminogenic needs, which represent the social and psychological conditions necessary for a crime to occur (Ward & Stewart, 2003). These needs stem from the frustration of basic human needs including relatedness, competency, and autonomy, and involve the acquisition of proxy goals and accompanying dysfunctional beliefs and behavior strategies (Ward & Stewart, 2003). Criminogenic needs are subsumed under the predictors of criminal behavior (Bonta & Andrews, 1998). High-risk offenders have more criminogenic needs then low offenders, and are less cooperative and motivated to change (Bonta & Andrews, 1998). The need principal assesses criminogenic needs while the risk principal matches the level of the offender’s likelihood to reoffend (Bonta & Andrews, 1998). Bonta and Andrews (2007) explained the utility of understanding criminogenic needs for mental health professionals herein:

Treatment providers may need to first deal with an individual’s debilitating anxiety or mental disorder in order to free the individual to attend and participate fully in a program targeting criminogenic needs. If the offender has limited verbal skills and a concrete thinking style then the program must ensure that abstract concepts are kept to a minimum and there is more behavioral practice than talking (p. 7).

Antisocial Personality Disorder

People who are diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder or APD generally report lower levels of anxiety then do individuals without APD (Bare, Hopko, & Armento, 2004). People with Antisocial Personality Disorder are more likely to commit multiple offenses, whereas people who do not have APD may commit one offense (Bare, Hopko, & Armento, 2004). Individuals without APD tend to have higher levels of anxiety and depression, since high anxiety and depression are considered a normal reaction to a stressful and uncommon situation (Bare, Hopko, & Armento 2004).

Alcohol and drug abuse and dependency factors significantly in those individuals with antisocial personality disorder; diagnoses of Antisocial Personality Disorder have been frequently considered when evaluating the juvenile’s openness to treatment. Bonta and Andrews (2007) described Antisocial Personality Disorder herein:

With respect to criminal behaviour, we refer specifically to an antisocial personality pattern. Antisocial personality pattern is not limited to the psychiatric diagnostic category of Antisocial Personality Disorder or the forensic label of psychopathy. It is more comprehensive and captures the history of generalized rule violation and trouble, some of the personality factors that function as criminogenic needs (e.g., impulsivity, self-centeredness) and responsivity factors (e.g., need for excitement, shallow affect). (p. 13)

Bonta and Andrews (2007) also suggested that criminal behavior will result “when the rewards and costs for crime outweigh the rewards and costs for prosocial behaviour” p. 13). For juvenile offenders, particularly those with Antisocial Personality Disorder, “rewards and costs can be delivered by others…family, friends, teachers, employers and co-workers…[or] they can be produced from within” such as pride, power, or the excitement produced when the juvenile successfully commits a crime and receives no punishment (Bonta and Andrews, 2007, p. 13)


Chapter 2 reviews selected literature concerning anxiety and depression from a number of different theorists including Horney, Sullivan, Kiesler, Adler, Leary, Wright and Ingraham, Bonta and Andrews, Spielberger and Beck, Emery and Greenberg. Chapter 2 discusses these theories and the ways in which these psychological disorders relate to criminogenic needs and criminal behavior specifically in the juvenile offender population. Chapter 2 also investigates the MAYSI-2 in detail and reviews some of the studies that have shown its effectiveness as a measuring tool for juvenile offenders during the intake stage. The chapter concludes with a detailed look at antisocial personality disorder and the relationship of this disorder with criminal behavior in juvenile offenders.


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  2. Andrews, D.A. & Bonta, J. (1998). The psychology of criminal conduct. Cincinnati: Anderson.
  3. Arslan, C. (2009). Anger, self-esteem, and perceived social support in adolescence. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 37 (4), 555-564.
  4. Bare, R.L., Hopko, D.R., & Armento, E.A. (2004). The relation of psychopathic characteristics and anxiety in noncriminals: physiological and cognitive responses to Guided Imagery. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26(4), 225-232.
  5. Beck, A., Emery, G., & Greenberg, R. (1985). Anxiety disorders and phobias: A cognitive perspective. New York: Basic Books.
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