Thomas Wojciechowski

Thomas Wojciechowski

Degrees Earned:

  • MA Sociology, University of Florida 2016
  • BA Sociology and Criminal Justice, Central Michigan University 2012

Research Interests:

  • Adolescent Substance Use and Violent Behavior
  • Prevention Science/Evaluation Research
  • Traumatic Stress and PTSD
  • Longitudinal Analysis of Criminal and Delinquent Behavior

Teaching Interests:

  • Life-Course Criminology
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Mental Health and Criminology
  • Prevention Science/Evaluation Research

Dissertation Title: The Development of Violence and Substance Use Among Juvenile Offenders: The Roles of PTSD and PTSD-Linked Strain Sensitivity

Juvenile offenders are a group at-risk for substance abuse, and perpetration of violent behavior.  Despite this known risk, there has yet to be an examination of how substance abuse and violence develop during the key transitional period of the life-course during adolescence and early adulthood.  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been identified as a risk factor for both of these outcomes also and mental illness is highly prevalent among juvenile offenders.  Further, individuals afflicted with PTSD demonstrate elevated sensitivity to strain exposure.  While the extant literature has identified these issues, past research lacks a developmental perspective on the role PTSD plays in predicting substance abuse and violence and there does not yet exist an examination of how PTSD-linked strain sensitivity may manifest increased in perpetration of substance abuse and violence.  This dissertation proceeded in three phases, all using the Pathways to Desistance data.  First, group based trajectory modeling was used to elucidate developmental patterns of violence, binge drinking, and marijuana use.  Second, multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the role of PTSD for predicting assignment to trajectory groups.  Finally, differences in the salience of the exposure to violence-PTSD interaction were examined between adolescence and early adulthood using poisson and ordinal logistic regression.  A four group model of violence trajectories, a seven group model of binge drinking trajectories, and an eight group model of marijuana use trajectories best fit the data.  PTSD at baseline predicted assignment to violence trajecotry groups characterized by perpetration of violence, relative to an abstaining group.  PTSD at baseline predicted assignment to the binge drinking trajectory characterized by deceleration and desistance.  Finally, the interaction between witnessed violence and PTSD status indicated that individuals suffering from PTSD demonstrated elevated frequency of violence in early adulthood and adolescence when witnessing violence, relative to non-afflicted participants who similarly witnessed violence.  These results have numerous implications for the treatment of juvenile offenders while under criminal justice supervision and indicates that proper screening of victims in this population for identifying PTSD may be highly relevant for mitigating risk of violent recidivism.