A prospective study of the relationship among adaptive strengths and recidivism rates with male juvenile offenders
Scarborough, Zane Thomas
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility of a relationship between the presence of adaptive skills and recidivism rates in juvenile offenders. Specifically, the study examined four adaptive skills as measured by the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1992), and analyzed these scores in relation to the number and seriousness of offenses for a sample of male juvenile offenders. It was hypothesized that these adaptive skills, individually and as a total construct, could be used to explain and/or predict differences in two separate levels of juvenile offender recidivism rates. The study sample included 250 male adolescent detainees ages 12-17 in a regional youth detention center in Georgia. Juvenile offense histories, including number of days in detention and number and types of offenses for two years pre- and two years post-test administration date, were accessed via the Juvenile Tracking System. Results indicated that no/minor recidivists differed from serious recidivists in that no/minor recidivists reported higher levels of adaptive skills, specifically interpersonal relations, relations with parents, and self-reliance. The adaptive scale of Relations with Parents captured a small but significant amount of the variance in the prediction of level of recidivism, with lower scores indicating a greater likelihood of serious recidivism. It was also found that the construct of adaptive skills could be used to explain differences in the two groups of recidivists, specifically that no/minor recidivists obtained higher overall adaptive scores than serious recidivists. In terms of predictive value, the construct of adaptive skills did show good prediction rates for who would not re-offend, but no better than chance prediction rates for who would re-offend. Implications of this study suggest that risk factors alone do not account for the differences in juvenile offenders and differences in their offense patterns. There is a need to investigate the protective factors that prevent some juvenile offenders from re-offending or committing more serious crimes, and from such investigations, a need to develop treatment and intervention programs that will target the development and enhancement of such adaptive skills.