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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


DE SOUZA, Elza Maria; PIRES DA SILVA-ABRAO, Fernanda  and  OLIVEIRA-ALMEIDA, Janayana. Social inequality, delinquency and depression: a study with adolescents in conflict with the law. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2011, vol.13, n.1, pp.13-26. ISSN 0124-0064.

Objective Evaluating self-perception regarding health status in adolescents released on parole and observing the attitudes of professionals, parents or guardians and the adolescents themselves. Methods This was quali-quantitative research lasting from February to July 2006 which included a cross-sectional and observational study using a sample of 51 adolescents in conflict with the law who had been released on parole and who were attending a Social Development Centre in Ceilândia (SDCC), Distrito Federal, Brazil. Adolescents aged 14 to 19 completed self-administered questionnaires covering sociodemographic and health status-related variables. Process observation was also conducted so as to obtain qualitative information concerned with the relationship between adolescents and the professionals in charge to provide socio-educational measures in the aforementioned Centre. Results It was found that 78.4 % of the interviewees mentioned good or very good health status; however, 76.6 % of the sample mentioned at least one health problem. Becoming easily irritated (anger) was the most referred to health problem, followed by sleeping problems (19.6 %), poor concentration (13.7 %) and allergy (13.7 %). Observation suggested that adolescents and parents had a poor relationship with the professionals in charge of caring for them. Conclusion The results suggested a high prevalence for symptoms of depression. Easy irritability may have been related to delinquency in the sample; however, such association was not investigated and deserves future research to develop appropriate public policy in Brazil and other Latin-American countries as violence becomes a public health problem in the region.

Keywords : Adolescent; depression; juvenile delinquency; self-perception; health status; socioeconomic factor; inequality.

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