SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: Societal-level risk factors can identify those at risk for violence but do not purport to determine how these factors affect individual-level beliefs or judgments. The current study examined high-risk, violent juvenile offenders with devastating past experiences to determine whether an individual-level approach could identify differences in the way they perceived their social world and whether these perceptions influenced the decision-making process. Participants—34 high-risk male delinquents between 15 and 18—were administered quantitative, structured interviews with both traditional risk factors and a decision-making task that required a judgment that could or could not lead to violence. Using traditional risk factors alone, participants appeared homogeneous. The decision-making approach distinguished between juveniles who, as one might expect, perceived a dangerous world where they either “kill or be killed,” from juveniles who optimistically were able to envision a world with alternatives to violence. These differences accounted for aspects of the decision-making process not captured by traditional risk factors and were significantly related to violent past behavior. We must improve upon a recidivism rate of 55% for juvenile offenders. A better understanding of how offenders perceive their social environment may be a first step toward successfully rehabilitating them to return to that environment upon release.
Abstract: This article assesses the differences in educational deficiencies between a statewide sample of delinquent students and a matched sample of nondelinquent students. Employing a research design that controls for a series of relevant individual and school variables, the study’s findings document that delinquent students are characterized by a series of disproportionate educational deficiencies as compared to their nondelinquent student counterparts. Delinquent students were found to attain lower grade point averages, have poorer school attendance records, be retained more often in the same grade and receive more school disciplinary actions. The article concludes that these documented educational deficiencies may play an integral role in the process of delinquency and, therefore, pose a number of public policy implications in relation to the prevention and treatment of delinquency.
Abstract: This study assesses the effects of three aspects of school organization—student enrollment, student–teacher ratio, and the number of different students taught—on the property and personal victimization experiences of students. It hypothesizes that smaller schools, schools with lower ratios of students to adults, and schools in which the number of different students taught by the typical teacher is lower will produce less victimization because of the increased social capital to which students in these schools are exposed. Using data from the National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools, the authors find that, net of individual-level risk factors and confounding characteristics of schools and their surrounding communities, each of the three aspects of school organization is related to student victimization but that these effects vary across victimization type. Their research suggests that reducing the ratio of students to teachers and reducing the number of different students taught by the average teacher are likely to reduce student victimization. Reducing school size is not. The authors also find evidence that higher levels of social capital, as measured by student consensus about normative beliefs, partially mediate the effects of student–teacher ratio on personal victimization.