Caution or warning? A validity study of the MAYSI-2 with juvenile offendersedit
Given the high prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders in the juvenile justice system and the emphasis on efficient screening and referrals, the current study sought to further validate the use of the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument version 2 (MAYSI-2). Using data from institutionalized delinquents (N=836) committed to the California Youth Authority, finite mixture modeling was employed to identify distinct latent classes based on MAYSI-2 scale scores. Identified classes were then compared across a range of covariates, including prior offenses, official records of misconduct, and multiple measures of mental health and psychological well-being. Findings revealed a three-class, gradient-based structure: low distress (n=380), moderate distress (n=327), and high distress (n=129). Overall, the MAYSI-2 identified juvenile offenders with mental health and substance use issues, but it did not differentiate youths with respect to offending patterns.