Factors Associated with Parenting among Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In regard to the injured offender, research indicates that violent victimization represents only one facet of a constellation of associated risks and consequences, including promiscuity and adolescent parenthood. A relationship between firearm injuries and self-reported promiscuity among incarcerated juvenile offenders has previously been noted. The present study was an attempt to gain additional insight into the larger consequences of violent injuries. Information pertaining to the fathering of children was collected from 258 incarcerated male adolescents from the Richmond, Virginia, metropolitan area during a two-year period. It was hypothesized that adolescent parenting would be associated with firearm injuries. The results indicated that 20% of the juvenile offenders fathered at least one child. Analyses revealed a significant relationship between firearm injuries and increased prevalence of adolescent parenting. Continued involvement in illegal activities, as indicated by a second commitment to a juvenil e correctional center, also was associated with increased prevalence of adolescent parenting, while race and involvement in drug selling or violent offending were not. The social and economic implications of these findings, particularly in terms of the health care and social service delivery systems, are discussed.

Research has revealed a strong relationship between criminal offending and violent injuries (Howell, 1992; May et al., 1995; McGonigal et al., 1993; McLaughlin et al., 1996a; Redeker et al., 1995). In regard to the injured offender, studies indicate that violent victimization represents only one facet of a constellation of associated risks and consequences, including substance abuse, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, and adolescent parenthood (May et al., 1995; McLaughlin et al., 1996a; Schubiner et al., 1993; Singer et al., 1995).

McLaughlin and colleagues (1996a, 1996b) found a relationship between firearm injuries and self-reported promiscuity among incarcerated juvenile offenders. The present study represents an effort to gain additional insight into the larger consequences of violent injuries. Information pertaining to the fathering of children was collected from incarcerated male adolescents, a group noteworthy for their exceptionally high rate of firearm injuries (May et al., 1995; McLaughlin et al., 1996a). It was hypothesized that adolescent parenting would be associated with firearm injuries, in accordance with previous evidence of increased promiscuity.

METHOD

Data were collected by means of a retrospective chart review of 258 adolescent males from the Richmond, Virginia, metropolitan area who were committed to juvenile correctional centers during a two-year period (July 1, 1992, though June 30, 1994). This sample had been examined previously and found to have a high prevalence of firearm injuries (McLaughlin et al., in press). Included in the medical record was self-report information pertaining to the number of children fathered, including both live births and current pregnancies, and current and prior history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The sample was predominantly African American (75%), with an average age of 15.5 years (range = 11-17 years) at the time of incarceration.

The data were analyzed using the SPSS statistical package. Nonparametric tests ([X.sup.2]) and t tests were used to compare the prevalence of parenting and firearm injuries among incarcerated male adolescents.

RESULTS

Overall, 20% of the juvenile offenders reported that they had fathered at least one child (see Table 1). Race was not significantly related to adolescent parenting; however, those reporting that they had fathered a child were somewhat older at the time of incarceration (t = 2.9l,p [less than].05). The rate of firearm injuries was 10%. Analysis revealed a significantly higher prevalence of fathering a child among the injured offenders ([x. …