Risk and resiliency in adolescent offenders
Howell, Tiffany Atkins
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Recidivism among adolescent offenders is a significant problem as the number of youths recommitted to penal institutions continues to grow each year. Research has identified several risk-factors that contribute to antisocial behavior, but there is significantly less research on risk-factors for re-offending among juvenile delinquents or protective factors that help prevent recidivism among adolescent offenders. Additionally, research has shown that effective treatment of female juvenile delinquents requires specialized conceptualization and treatment. The current study investigated the risk-factors for continued adolescent offending, the protective factors which prevent further delinquent behavior, and gender differences utilizing the BASC-2-SRP, BASC-2-PRS, and URICA. The Behavior Assessment System for Children, 2nd Edition assess for the presence of both risk-factors and protective factors among youth, while the URICA is helpful in assessing for readiness to change. Results found that several scales and composite scores of the BASC-2-PRS are predictive of recidivism. Several of the predictive variables included risk-factors such as aggression, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and externalizing behaviors. Additionally, several protective factors were shown to predict lower recidivism, such as adaptability, social skills, and leadership. Interestingly, neither of the risk-factors or the protective factors could predict recidivism alone. This suggests that no single category exclusively predicts adolescent offending, but there is a dynamic interaction between risk and resiliency. Regarding gender, results indicate that the BASC-2-SRP appears to be more sensitive than the BASC-2-PRS when identifying gender differences. Consistent with prior research, females endorsed a high number of symptoms indicative of hopelessness, low self-esteem, low self-reliance, interpersonal conflict, and a sense of inadequacy on the BASC-2-SRP. Inconsistent with prior research, however, results indicated that males reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than females on the BASC-2-SRP. This trend is historically not common within male adolescent offending populations. No significant correlations were found regarding recidivism, gender, rate of recidivism, or type of offense upon recidivism on the URICA. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.