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 ceilandia (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.