Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Qualitative Case Study: The Lived Educational Experiences of Former Juvenile Delinquents

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Qualitative Case Study: The Lived Educational Experiences of Former Juvenile Delinquents

Article excerpt

Merrian, (1998) described a form of qualitative research that is focused on the discovery and understanding of a single phenomenon. Merrian labeled this design as a "generic qualitative method" (p. 11). The design of the current generic qualitative case focused on the development of a rich description that presents the collective lived educational experiences of adults, who as juveniles, were adjudicated delinquent and put into placement. Starting with a theoretical perspective that is centered in educational psychology it can be theorized that the lived educational experiences of juveniles may have significant impact on whether the individual succeeds or fails in the academic setting. In the late seventies Albert Bandura (1977b), proposed learning occurs through observational experiences. Assuming Bandura was correct; one would conclude that anti-social or delinquent behavior is acquired through the observation of other individuals engaged in these behaviors.

Using a generic qualitative approach it was possible to examine the experiences of adults who, as former adjudicated delinquents, in terms of their lived educational experiences. In addition the experiences of these individuals in an educational setting in terms of social relationships between the juvenile and the various social groups they were exposed to in their day-to-day lives. Social learning theory, (Bandura, 1977b), suggests this study should reveal the existence of negative peer relationships along with negative peers, and negative student teacher relationships. It is these experiences that Bandura would suggest ultimately led to learned delinquent behavior.

Review of Research Literature and Methodological Literature

Historical Background

The study of the theoretical root causes of juvenile delinquency has been an ongoing research topic for decades. Gault (1914) studied the connection between mentally defective individuals and their adolescent delinquent behavior. Gault's research suggested delinquency was the result of individuals with low IQ's or mental acuity. Powers and Witmer (1951) took a close look at Cabot's 1935 work with the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. Cabot was interested in the impact of an early intervention approach on the development of juvenile delinquent behaviors as the child matured. It was theorized academic tutoring combined with counseling while the individual was still young and pre-delinquent would result in a lower occurrence of anti-social behaviors later on.

Early Childhood Experiences and Juvenile Delinquency

Family structure may lay play a significant role in the development of juvenile delinquency. One aspect of family structure, namely the lack of active communication between parents and children, may be a "significant causal factor" (Yablonski, 2000, p. 301). Yablonski argued the family may be the single most significant influence on personality development. The lack of adequate family structure and the absence of proper socialization of the young child may facilitate development issues and subsequent delinquency (Erikson, 1963). Individuals placed in foster care were, according to Alltucker, Bullis, Close, and Yovanoof (2006) were four times more likely to engage in early onset delinquency. In addition, having a member of the family who were convicted of a felony increased the likelihood of early onset delinquent behaviors by a factor of two. Cicchetti, (1993) argued early onset delinquency is an ongoing process influenced by multiple variable. Farrington, Jolliffe, Loeber, Stouthammer-Lober, and Kalb (2001) found a familial link with 8% of the families studied accounting for 43% of all arrests. These researchers studied multiple generations of families with a history of delinquency. Preski and Shelton (2001) found a significant correlation (p<.05) between parent and sibling criminality and the occurrence of delinquent behaviors. A review of the existing research literature suggests a definite link between family structure, stability, and support and the onset of juvenile delinquency. …

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