Project 9

Childhood trauma and related mental health outcomes in an offender population

Background: Exposure to childhood trauma is a potent risk factor for the development of all forms of psychiatric disorder as well as the development of criminality. Children exposed to abuse are also at an elevated risk for the committal of violent sexual assault.

Objective: To use 10 years of offender electronic case files (N=120,000) to identify factors that mediate/moderate (i.e. trauma related disorders) between childhood trauma exposure, and later engagement in childhood- and gender-based violence.

Methods: Retrospective and prospective longitudinal designs will be employed.

Secondments: The fellow will register in the University of Southern Denmark from January 2017-March 2018, receive additional training in Ulster University from April 2018-July 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in the Probation Board of Northern Ireland from August 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from the University of Southern Denmark.

Innovation: Research Project 9 will develop a comprehensive account of the transition from childhood-exposure to trauma, to adult psychopathology, and the committal of childhood- and gender-based violence. Findings from Research Project 9 will inform early interventions to prevent the cycle of childhood- and gender-based trauma.

Deliverables: (6.1) Construct a database of trauma exposures of offender population (6.2) Identification of effects of childhood trauma, risk/protective factors on future offending behaviour and recidivism. Recommendations on how to use this information to reduce recidivism.

Apply for Project 9 here


Project 10

Investigating poly-victimization in child abuse caseS

Background: Recent literature has documented high rates of exposure to many co-occurring types of victimization among children, a phenomenon known as polyvictimization. Exposure to polyvictimization is a more powerful predictor of negative outcomes than experiencing any individual type of victimization. However, there remains a need to understand distinct poly-victimization profiles, linking trauma exposure, gender, and ethnicity to negative outcomes

Objective: Investigate the role of polyvictimization in relation to explaining trauma symptomatology and consequently case management for children (0-17years) at the Danish Children Centres.

Methods: A mixed methods approach, conducting both case file reviews and qualitative interviews will be employed. Previous and ongoing cases will be assessed and quantified. Qualitative interviews with clinical key informants will be carried out to investigate links between polyvictimization, trauma symptomatology and case management.

Secondments: The fellow will register in Trinity College Dublin from January 2017-March 2018 and conduct their non-academic placement in the Danish Children Centres from April 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from Trinity College Dublin.

Innovation: Research Project 10 will develop understandings of the role of multiple traumatisation among children and inform the development of more effective treatment interventions and referral planning in cases of child abuse. 

Deliverables: (6.3) Identification of distinct poly-victimisation profiles, linking trauma exposure, gender, and ethnicity to negative outcomes (6.4) Recommendations for how to improve treatment interventions and referral planning in cases of child abuse

Apply for Project 10 here


Project 11

Gender-specific facilitators and barriers to accessing rape and sexual assault services

Background: A meta-analysis of data from 22 countries found that exposure to childhood sexual abuse is common and that females (19.7%) are more likely than males (7.9%) to experience such abuse. However, 66% of adults and 80% of children and adolescents suffering from mental health disorders never access psychological treatment services.

Objective: To identify gender-specific barriers and facilitators to accessing freely available rape and sexual assault support services.

Methods: Rooted in gender-theory, key-informant interviews, observations, and phenomenological approaches will be employed.

Secondments: The fellow will register in Ulster University from January 2017-March 2018 and conduct their non-academic placement in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre from April 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from Ulster University

Innovation: Research Project 11 will identify the facilitators and barriers to accessing mental health support services among the victims of sexual violence. Findings will inform the restructuring of service awareness campaigns, promoting earlier interventions for victims of sexual trauma.

Deliverables: (6.5) Specific recommendations to restructure existing services, counselling services, and service awareness campaigns (6.6) Context sensitive informational resources on sexual assault and sexual assault support services across the gender spectrum

Apply for Project 11 here


Developmental and psychosocial factors that predict offender desistence

Background: Recidivistic criminal behavior is a problem for all nations with a recent worldwide meta-analysis indicating that reoffending rates are as high as 50%. Understanding the factors that can predict desistance from engagement in childhood- and gender-based violence is critical in order to reduce the cycle of trauma progressing.

Objective: Understand how developmental, psychosocial, and trauma-related factors predict desistance from crime, and desistance specifically from childhood- and gender-based crime.

Methods: Mixed-methods approaches involving qualitative interviews and case-file reviews, along with quantitative analysis of a decade’s worth of data collected by the PBNI will be conducted among offenders who have successfully desisted from perpetrating childhood- and gender-based violence to determine specific trauma-history, developmental, and psychosocial factors that are common to ‘desisters’.

Secondments: The fellow will register in the University of Southern Denmark from January 2017-March 2018, receive additional training in Ulster University from April 2018-July 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in the Probation Board of Northern Ireland from August 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from the University of Southern Denmark.  

Innovation: Research Project 12 will identify important personal and psychosocial information regarding factors that reduce risk of recidivism among perpetrators of childhood- and gender-based violence. Findings will be used to make recommendations for how to intervene at developmental, psychosocial, and trauma levels to encourage desistance.

Deliverables: (6.7) Strategies to reduce the risk of re-offending amongst perpetrators of childhood- and gender-based violence (6.8) Recommendations for how to intervene on developmental, psychosocial, and trauma-related factors to encourage desistance.

Apply for Project 12 here

Project 12