FASD: The Crime Connection

© 2003 Teresa Kellerman



One million violent crimes were committed in the U.S. last year.  Two thirds involved the use of alcohol.  Three fourths of spousal violence involved alcohol.  Source:  U.S. Department of Justice · Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime Characteristics, 2002 National Crime Victimization Survey.  http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict_c.htm#alcohol


Research by Ann Streissguth revealed that 60% of teens with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders were in trouble with the law before reaching adulthood.  Source: The Challenge of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Overcoming Secondary Disabilities. Ann Streissguth and Jonathan Kanter (Eds.). (1997) University of Washington Press.   http://www.come-over.to/FAS/fasconf.htm


Compare that figure to the results of a parent survey in Pima County that revealed only 6% of the teens had ever been in trouble with the law.  Source: The United States Conference of Mayors Best Practices Database, Pima County Community Services Report, "Joint Effort Focuses on Innovative Employment and Training Services for Youth.  http://www.usmayors.org/USCM/best_practices

Psychologist Josephine Nanson reported that as many as half of young offenders appearing in provincial court in Saskatchewan are affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).  Source:  Crime Times 1999, Vol. 5, No. 2, Page 2


In up to 90 percent of child abuse cases, alcohol is a significant factor.  Source: Children of Alcoholics Fact Sheet, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse


According to research conducted by Dr. Sterling Clarren, of the women who gave birth to babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, 100% were victims of traumatic physical abuse, and many were victims of sexual abuse.  According to Clarren, “The sexual abuse stories were so horrible that the nurse who did these interviews generally needed therapy herself after she completed these interviews.”  Source: Dr Sterling Clarren's Keynote Address to the Yukon 2002 Prairie Northern Conference on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  http://come-over.to/FAS/Whitehorse/WhitehorseArticleSC1.htm


Results of the above study by Clarren indicate that 75% of the children with FAS were victims of physical abuse.


The Streissguth study mentioned above shows that being a victim of physical violence is one of the major factors that increases the risk of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders suffering from serious secondary disabilities later in life.  The most common secondary disability is mental health problems.  Most adults with FASD suffer from clinical depression (43%) with a high risk of suicide attempt (23%).


FAS Community Resource Center

Fasstar Enterprises