Strength and risk in incarcerated youth
Cartwright, Hilary Meredith
Master of Arts
SubjectDelinquent behaviour (risk factors)
Juvenile corrections (Psychological aspects)
Juvenile delinquency (Psychological aspects)
MetadataShow full item record
Assessment of delinquent youth typically centers around deficits and pathologies. There is an emerging consensus that identifying strengths and protective factors is crucial to develop programs that adequately address the needs of troubled youth (Epstein, Rudolph, and Epstein, 2000; Hoge, Andrews, and Leschied, 1996). Strengths and protective factors may also be important determinants of how youth respond to treatment and incarceration. Research points to healthy family functioning, pro-social attitudes, positive peer relationships, and school adjustment as variables which contribute to the resilience of at-risk and delinquent youth. Some research suggests that even youth at high risk for conduct and behavioural problems, may be resilient as a function o f the presence of important protective variables. The present study examined the relationships between strengths in family functioning, school functioning, and peer relations on both self-reported behaviour and staff behavioural reports o f incarcerated adolescents. Interactions between these strengths and risk factors, in areas including family functioning, attitudes, and personality and behaviours were also examined, to determine the mitigating effect of strengths on risk factors. Findings indicated that risk factors, (i.e., overall risk level, risk in personality and behaviour, and attitudes and orientation), and family and peer relationships, specifically attachment, were related to outcome measures of self-reported difficulties, delinquency, aggression, and staff reported behavioural incidents. The findings with regard to formalized strength-based assessment did not implicate this assessment strategy as a useful one for predicting youth’s behaviour while incarcerated. These findings are discussed within the context of strength-based theory, as well as findings of research conducted on risk and delinquency, and attachment and delinquency. Limitations and directions for future research are also discussed.