Summary / Abstract

Title: Family and social contexts of adolescent re-offenders

Synopsis: Drawn from a representative sample, 74 young people (15-16-years-old on average) who were beingarrested frequently by the police ("re-offenders") were traced and interviewed wherever they were living about aspectsof their family and social lives. Interview data revealed high levels of family disruption and a wide variety of current and pastliving circumstances. Interviewees reported good relationships with their mothers and strong social ties with friends and peers.Few were involved in any constructive day to day activities, a third claiming to be unemployed and most doing nothing. Drug andalcohol use were widespread and heavy, and there was evidence of many attempts to get help for a variety of problems—half hadhad some sort of psychological intervention or counselling arranged for them—and distress, general stresses and lack ofsupport were not uncommon. Intervention and policy impli╬cations are discussed. offenders, interviewees, adolescent, drug, friends, living, psychologists, Hagell, mothers, Newburn, lives, alcohol, counselling, peers, police, high levels, representativeness, intervention, Home Office, social contexts, delinquency, general population, base sample, family disruption, health education unit, juvenile offending, experiences, North West England, Farrington, chronic offenders,

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journal adolescence 1996 19 5 18 family social contexts adolescent re offenders ann hagell tim newburn drawn representative sample 74 young people 15 16 years old average arrested frequently police re offenders traced interviewed living aspects family social lives interview data revealed high levels family disruption wide variety current past living circumstances interviewees reported good relationships mothers strong social ties friends peers involved constructive day day activities third claiming unemployed doing drug alcohol widespread heavy evidence attempts get help variety problems half sort psychological intervention counselling arranged distress general stresses lack support uncommon intervention policy implications discussed 1996 association professionals services adolescents introduction young people commit criminal offences adolescence young people restrict activities status offences illegal age restrictions drinking 18 get caught significant minority go acquire criminal record home office statistics suggest approximately third adult males convicted standard list offence thirties home office statistical department 1985 cambridge study delinquency indicated convictions result offences committed juveniles farrington 1986 young people frequently re offend rarer methods attempt distinguish group wolfgang et al 1972 number arrests method identifying referred chronic offenders study suggested chronic offenders arrested five times represented 6 cohort 10 000 boys philadelphia focusing year offending research shown year approximately 1 250 young people aged 10 16 arrested three times hagell newburn 1994 definitional differences create confusion discussing existing work young offenders terms frequent persistent serious chronic indicate extreme end juvenile offending distinction frequent persistent offending clear purposes paper term re offenders describe group young people focused young people arrested minimum three reprint requests correspondence addressed hagell policy studies institute london u k 0140 1971 96 01000514 12 00 0 1996 association professionals services adolescents 6 hagell t newburn times year deliberately chosen refer young people sample persistent offenders particular difficulties associated term discussion see hagell newburn 1994 confusion point offending frequent frequent offending persistent popular discussions juvenile offending confusion frequency offending seriousness two mistakenly conflated important recognize young offenders commit serious crimes extensive criminal histories contrast frequent offenders commit serious crimes illustrated fact offenders focus article said involved relatively frequent offending committed serious offences small proportion incarcerated known young re offenders variously defined groups frequent persistent serious young offenders currently receive great deal research media attention latter despite recent government statistics reporting fall 1985 number known young offenders central statistical office 1994 academic literature studies social contexts frequent serious adolescent offenders tended concentrate incarcerated samples e g bailey et al 1994 epps 1994 relied high risk samples general population e g farrington 1983 farrington west 1993 little systematic research conducted specifically group defined re offenders discussion definitions implied studies incarcerated young people concentrated particular selected type juvenile offenders studies based general population looking broad range adolescents tend involve small numbers frequent serious offenders cambridge study delinquency contained 23 males 411 six convictions age 23 years farrington 1983 home office study riley shaw 1985 78 serious offenders admitted five delinquent acts convictions year leading study non incarcerated frequent young offender cause trouble criminal justice welfare agencies subject recent policy discussions legislative change known family social contexts types adolescent re offenders known serious offenders psychiatrically disturbed young people admitted secure units youth treatment centres high levels family disruption disadvantage found bailey et al 1994 millam et al 1988 bailey et al 1994 found 80 adolescents secure unit spent time local authority care point lives general population based studies cambridge study delinquency consistently shown relevance economic deprivation family factors predicting offending continuities conduct disorder see loeber dishion 1983 rutter giller 1983 quinton rutter 1988 gottfredson hirschi 1990 sampson laub 1993 recently cambridge study authors claimed 7 adolescent re offenders chronic offenders severe family background problems non chronic offenders chronic offenders necessarily frequent offenders nine offences age 32 24 sample farrington west 1993 likely social backgrounds family experiences frequent re offenders resemble farrington chronic offenders disturbed reported severely disturbed incarcerated young people young re offenders committing violent sexual offences repeatedly involving minor offending important backgrounds disrupted chaotic reported types offenders peers long recognized playing important role development persistence adolescent criminality recent analysis american national youth survey warr 1993 suggested amount time spent family reduces eliminates peer influence delinquency adolescents detached chaotic family ties peers likely important greater role play supporting offending behaviour e g gottfredson hirishi 1987 despite importance friendship groups adolescents detaching families school work spend time peers obvious implications intervention juvenile offending overlooked frequent re offenders time spending get trouble friends act answers questions relate frequent reoffenders based community completely clear nature tone family social life likely closely associated factors psychological health social drugs alcohol cannabis turning aspects re offenders psychological health bailey et al 1994 recently asserted psychiatric input adolescent offenders receiving increasing attention specialized secure facilities exist young people mentally disordered offenders previously wrongly placed penal system disturbed adolescents dealt usual local provision analysis notes 100 adolescents admitted secure unit bailey et al found 53 conduct disorder 34 mixture conduct emotional problems latter common girls boys inpatient psychiatric treatment received approximately quarter 41 seen outpatients 7 previous psychological psychiatric contact specialized subset young offenders common offence sexual minority involved sort minor offending general population studies isle wight rutter et al 1970 earlier reported overlaps conduct disorder emotional problems delinquent behaviour found high level demand psychological services re offenders existing planned criminal justice provision take account alcohol drugs schoolchildren reported increase report schools health education unit balding 1993 suggested 14 today 14 15 year olds tried alcohol alcohol frequently related offending literature e g mcmurran hollin 1989 cambridge study delinquency suggested offenders drank beer got drunk non offenders farrington west 1990 8 hagell t newburn high base rates alcohol experimentation measham et al 1994 recently suggested prevalence regular drug young people risen record levels reflects significant change drug england group survey 776 14 15 year olds north west england end 1991 found six 10 offered drugs third tried drugs high rates hallucinogen lsd stimulant cannabis cent cohort tried cocaine tranquillisers heroin 1992 british crime survey bsc mayhew et al 1993 self report drug list completed 1000 12 15 year olds estimates drug results far lower reported measham et al 1994 3 12 13 year olds 14 14 15 year olds admitted taken drug cannabis commonly reported little known current drug young re offenders assume basis general population figures base rate drug teenagers age high higher frequent young offenders documented main aim paper extend known family social worlds psychological health young offenders looking specifically group mainly non incarcerated frequent re offenders order supplement known serious incarcerated young offenders offending general adolescent population purpose untangle causality areas raise issues important designing appropriate interventions re offenders sample method interviewees selected larger sample referred base sample juveniles identified arrested three times 1992 research conducted two geographical areas first midlands county second consisting two london boroughs order identify base sample policy arrest records 1 year 1992 analysed juveniles 10 16 years old inclusive time arrests appeared three times listed produced total 531 young people forms police social services data collected base sample results relating larger group reported hagell newburn 1994 addition attempts made trace interview approximately half re offenders 251 results interviews detailed paper great difficulties encountered tracing individuals belonging highly unusual group total 41 refusals 251 families reoffender selected interview approximately half came offenders remainder family members 74 young re offenders interviewed rest young people seen 136 untraced traced uncontactable difficulties experienced getting meet child fell four main categories finding family gaining cooperation family finding child gaining parental permission getting child present particular time 74 re offenders 29 selected successfully interviewed seen living time contact seven cases custody two seen children homes 9 adolescent re offenders interviewers followed largely structured interview containing small proportion open ended questions approximately 45 minutes complete emphasis collecting information child current circumstances circumstances previous year different topics covered current living circumstances current occupation parental occupation relationships interviewee running away home contact social services educational background truanting attitudes influence friends perceptions seriousness risks offending physical health alcohol drug contact psychological services perceptions future hold addition interviewees asked complete self report life offences 1 implications sampling procedure sample attrition intention study design interview representative sample frequent re offenders possible respect base sample interviewees selected unique consisted adolescents arrested three times areas areas covered range neighborhoods inner city small towns rural villages countryside reasonable assume young people represented extreme end juvenile offending areas caution concerning representativeness base sample expressed point first young people selected police arrest records offenders detected arrested second arrested frequently offend relatively frequently known police come families containing offenders primary intentions research focus offenders deemed police courts presenting particular problem official records felt legitimate starting point study addition likely overlap arrested frequently offending frequently sufficiently high affect nature base sample significantly 29 selected interview base sample seen comparisons made interviewed sample full group 531 reoffenders comprised base sample b 251 selected interview comparisons made sex ratios age number known alleged offences respects interviewed sample appeared representative base sample sampling midlands aimed offending frequently comparisons interviewees selected interview suggested successfully seen frequent end continuum important remember continuum begins three arrests year minimum seen relatively frequent offenders possible anecdotal information collected families social workers interviewed surprisingly impression children difficulty seeing leading chaotic disturbed personal lives 1 copies interview schedule self reported offending list found hagell newburn 1994 10 hagell t newburn care control families local authority results presented successfully interviewed likely underrepresent extent difficulties children offend frequently design originally intended explore group differences different types frequent offenders comparison group non offenders frequent offenders purposes paper possible comparisons made results interviews published figures groups offenders adolescents studies frequent offenders numbers seen unique nature interviewees means description lives data valuable right work needed compare groups similarly aged adolescents sample demographic offending characteristics 74 re offenders interviewed eight girls 66 boys table 1 shows average age frequency arrest officially recorded offending age interview ranged 11 18 years old average sample 16 years old seen girls tended months older boys 16 2 years 15 8 years respectively police files contained offences ended caution conviction known offences offences arrest made dropped point subsequent proceedings ended guilty finding alleged table shows average 1992 offenders charged seven offences five ending caution conviction frequent charges road traffic offences driving licence tax insurance nonresidential burglary car theft criminal damage arson fits pattern juvenile offending review see rutter giller 1983 time interview 22 re offenders living parents biological step parent parent partner case grandparents 32 living mothers five living fathers 15 living parent living parent seven custody two children homes remainder living independently homeless staying friends four interviewees 5 claimed mother mother figure lives infrequently seen 19 26 claimed father father figure figures stark contrast presented children england wales 1992 17 children aged 16 years lived lone mothers 2 lone fathers henry et al 1993 recently pointed basis table 1 age officially recorded offending rates interviewees sample characteristic mean n 74 d age years 1 7 93 15 9 1 4 total arrests 1992 4 5 2 7 total known alleged offences 1992 7 1 4 4 total known offences 1992 5 0 4 4 i e middle interviewing period 11 adolescent re offenders dunedin multidisciplinary health development study types children family means mother rotating series auxiliary caretakers p 97 results social relationships re offenders wide range social relationships number different realms families peers acquaintances different environments living adults welfare criminal justice agencies range social contacts broader experienced majority adolescents living mobile chaotic lives experiencing outside intervention living mothers interviewees universally reported good relationship approximately nine 10 86 said got fairly mothers remaining 14 reported got badly contact measure quality relationship despite positive tone relationships interviewees report quite lot relationship change recent months half sample said relationship mother changed previous year reporting grown closer 33 interviewees usual reports minor conflict adolescents relationships parents considering fact sample frequently serious trouble findings little surprising due understandable level insecurity betraying mothers strangers written report interviewer commented saddest moments asking relationship parents withdrawn i thought cry maintained ok interviews provided clear evidence strength ties adolescents boys mothers offenders reported fairly good relationships fathers distant 55 re offenders fathers 42 76 reported satisfactory relationships evidence recent relationship change half interviewees saying relationship changed previous year contrast reports relationships mothers said getting closer said growing apart fathers case separate assessments relationship son father son interviewed young offenders institution reported fairly close father keen give side story father wrote saying truth i ve secretly nervous wreck years persistently choose shame father whilst making ill process relationships background disruption living circumstances interviewees reported high levels contact social services spent time care five 7 said foster care point lives 27 36 said children home experienced 12 hagell t newburn foster residential care latter recorded kind contact social services four five approximately two thirds said relationships social workers ok remainder reported problems half interviewees 49 reported run away home point night longer cases children run away months case 12 year old boy slept streets 3 months matched information gathered children interviewed unusual parents social workers comment children run away seen weeks interviewees sociable group table 2 summarizes aspects contacts friends spending time partners majority spent time friends five cent claimed see friends week saw frequently 72 claiming see 6 days week numbers groups varied small larger approximately half interviewees table 2 summary aspects friendships frequent offenders number interviewees n 74 size regular friendship group person 8 11 two three people 30 41 bigger group 36 49 age members friendship group younger self 4 5 age self 36 49 older self 33 45 frequency contact friends week 4 5 twice week 3 4 2 6 times week 14 19 6 times 53 72 disapproval actions friends friends disapprove self 45 63 friends disapprove self 26 37 getting police trouble friends 13 18 61 82 disapproval friends parents guardians disapprove friends 30 40 dubious disapproval 22 30 e g past parents object friends 22 30 respondent missing answer three respondents missing answer 13 adolescent re offenders mixed sex friendship groups containing boys girls tended socialize people age older six cent friends younger expected reports usual offenders get trouble police company friends gottfredson hirschi 1987 80 reported happened point reflected higher level co offending extracted police data policy data recorded co offenders actually arrested interviewees asked got fights friends fights street pubs football matches half said get fights 10 company regular friends suggests offences violent offenders acting considered friends going limb order look re offenders acting outside general rules behaviour group table 2 presents levels disapproval interviewees behaviour regular friends large proportion third reported friends agree doing interviewees parents fairly aware potentially negative influence child peer group 70 parents perceived interviewees disapproving friends father cited wrote i put effort desert favour called friends day day occupation despite fact average official school leaving age 16 years majority interviewees left school aged 16 six children 16 years old approximately third group attending anticipating returning summer break left infrequently result difficulties school threequarters sample reported temporarily excluded 76 half permanently excluded 51 point school careers remainder sample reported unemployed 34 doing working studying training looking work 16 last group effect doing two re offenders training scheme time interview scheme joyriders majority told unemployed officially registered answer simply indicated like working see table 3 interviewees involved anticipating caring children boys girls parent three girls volunteered currently pregnant addition two boys partners expecting child case young woman 17 three year old child pregnant time interview eight girls total rates pregnancy high rates conceptions girls aged 13 15 england wales 9 3 thousand 1991 cso 1994 rates pregnancy detected study high likely underestimate information sought children pregnancies terminated 14 hagell t newburn psychological physical health aspects psychological physical health assessed interviews substance referrals psychological psychiatric services respect alcohol four 74 re offenders interviewed tried rate 5 compared rate 14 schoolchildren reported schools health education unit balding 1993 numbers tried alcohol higher populations representative schoolchildren alcohol re offenders heavier norm age group three quarters re offenders drank alcohol regularly compared 30 adolescents weekly drinkers balding report proportion necessarily people claimed drunk point seven sample reported getting drunk week five drinking day table 4 compares rates different drug found sample compared measham et al 1994 survey 776 14 15 year olds north west england bsc 1992 survey 1000 12 15 year olds psi re offenders average slightly older two samples table 3 current occupation frequent offenders number interviewees unemployed official unofficial 25 34 school 22 30 non employed 14 19 waiting college education 6 8 working full time 4 5 attending training scheme 2 3 working time 1 1 total 74 100 table 4 prevalence drug young people two general surveys compared re offenders drug type tried manchester study 1992 bsc psi re offenders 14 15 year olds 12 15 year olds 15 16 years n 776 n 1000 n 74 cannabis 32 9 74 hallucinogens lsd 14 2 39 solvents e g glue 12 3 23 amphetamines 10 1 32 ecstasy e mdma 6 1 16 cocaine inc crack 2 0 11 heroin 0 0 5 drug 64 14 74 figures presented drugs features three studies drugs reported tranquillisers magic mushrooms nitrites ketamin clinical anaesthetic 15 adolescent re offenders ordering drugs terms numbers sample said tried broadly three samples cannabis hallucinogens solvents amphetamines proving likely drugs tried study re offenders interviewees asked frequency last month re offenders cannabis last month average 15 different occasions higher level frequency drug list amphetamines barbiturates done average three times last month drugs last month average varied considerably individuals terms psychological health services distress sadness general stress lack social support commonly reported interviewed group total half re offenders 51 71 interviewees answer question reported referred sort counselling psychological help twentyseven claimed seen psychologist number claimed counselling two groups overlapped 18 cases young people reported experience psychologists forms counselling reasons referral varied contacts different kinds services varying degrees formality cases educational psychologists psychologists prison service local health service help sought drugs problems fighting anger depression offending behaviour school exclusions girl told boyfriend drugs sought help general practitioner occasion referred anorexia third occasion seen counsellor whilst resident children home addition cases like referrals form counselling result action mother educational system played role case offender reported counselling arranged solicitor reactions counselling mixed reported difficulty commitment gone tried fairly common reaction initial experiences counselling addition reports concerning counselling obvious information arising interviews lives young people contained disproportionate experiences loss trauma fairly high frequency dramatic events children lives reflected interviews children obvious physical scars reported hospital admissions accidents crashes stabbings case trauma counselling offered boy serious stabbing interviewees reported parent committed suicide official records suggested sibling killed accident family sample subjected vigilante behaviour neighbours solicitor claimed garage destroyed visitors coming door weapons discussion targeting sample frequent young re offenders interview revealed quickly chaotic disruptive nature lives led young people difficult trace pin potential interviewees results 74 16 hagell t newburn interviews re offenders average 16 years old arrested average seven offences year revealed interesting details family social context living uniqueness sample interview results give valuable insight lives conclusions drawn role factors discussed play actually causing offending behaviour data regarded exploratory preliminary highlight need research subgroup offenders data suggest despite fact frequent re offenders rarely sex offenders violent offenders different young people detained secure adolescent units offending behaviour share background characteristics found samples interviewed study members small group frequent young offenders considered responsible large proportion offences committed age group received political attention recently likely offending behaviour young people tackled successfully variety forms social psychological educational supports future programmes aimed population interviews highlighted areas consideration terms provision intervention frequent offenders first results suggest significant proportion young people falling state systems provided training employment kind reorganization state benefits system 1988 young people aged 16 18 automatically entitled benefits right claim unemployment benefit occupations detailed table 3 suggest four five 74 young people legal independent income interviewees discussed problems finance independent living cited poverty reason offending girls sample frequently arrested shoplifting mothercare despite growing pressure parents take financial responsibility children 18 parents study opinion turned 16 young people supporting employment financial future look positive cambridge study delinquency suggested age 18 frequent offenders likely erratic work histories periods unemployment likely living away home needing money support work conducted time ago state benefits widely available age group likely observation relevant today results support general picture serve emphasize difficulties faced family state notions financial responsibility conflict crucial period leaving school independence family expected dependence family expected latter second positive reports relationships mothers face chaotic living arrangements suggests maintenance family ties paramount importance require considerable support seen home accounts relationships parents likely positive home harder interview relationships totally broken young people likely left parents house interviewee reported spent 3 months living homeless age 13 tracing people impossible sample 74 interviewed re offenders seen home proportion 17 adolescent re offenders interviewed independent living custody seen extremely disrupted backgrounds able contact home rare respites types care absconding cases unusual described close mothers third significant predictors child acquire criminal record parent record west 1982 size age interviewed sample meant small number children fact unusual group adolescents age report reviewing parenthood training young offenders caddle 1991 suggests young offenders custody parents years release custody children re offenders parent custody considered high risk reduce risk support potential source reward lives re offenders parenthood training essential incarcerated non incarcerated re offenders importance peers high rates drug alcohol need considered tandem re offenders interviewed largely sociable likely remain tended mix adolescents age older younger reported hagell newburn 1994 approximately four five base sample 531 re offenders convicted offence committed young person re offender widespread heavy drugs interviewed group drug education support dependency addiction major consideration form intervention provision addition importance peer group re offenders face disrupted family lives contributory factor programmes criminal justice options work acknowledgements study funded home office research planning unit grateful police social services representatives assisted project interviewing team virginia bergin kevin dowd joe elliott murray griffin ben hainsworth owen williams two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments course indebted interviewees sharing experiences references bailey m thornton l weaver b 1994 first 100 admissions adolescent secure unit journal adolescence 17 207 220 balding j 1993 young people 1992 exeter schools health education unit school education university exeter caddle d 1991 parenthood training young offenders evaluation courses young offenders institutions research planning unit paper 63 london home office central statistical office 1994 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