Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Family Relations and School Experiences in Criminal Recidivists with a Comorbid Substance Use Problem

Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Family Relations and School Experiences in Criminal Recidivists with a Comorbid Substance Use Problem

Article excerpt


In making progress to the number of recidivist offenders, different service agencies established a cooperative aiming to offer more complete service. Contact groups consisting of police officers, prison officers and local community social workers collaborated on a magnitude of targets. A survey was conducted to study the social networks, educational background, welfare problems and self management skills among 35 recidivists with a comorbid substance use problem. Results showed fewer welfare problems and better self management in recividists who had more years in the educational system and in those with a good relation to their brother. The results argue for more inclusive educational services and the use of certain family members as a resource in the public collaboration to prevent further offences.

Keywords: Recidivist offenders, Family relations, School experiences, Resilience

1. Introduction and Background

To fulfill and succeed in preventive work, the knowledge of risk-promoting and protective factors are crucial. Previous research reports an association between social ties within the family, school and circle of friends, and later problems with substance abuse and criminality (Farrington, 1998; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992). Early experience with available social support and help from significant others, ability to seek help and comfort, and efficient handling of stress and strain, have all been identified as protective factors (Olsen & Traavik, 2010).

1.1 The impact of Close Relations

Social support can be defined as the extent of instrumental and emotional support from close relationships, social networking and community (Hochstetler, DeLisi, & Pratt, 2010). A neighbour, friend or a family member who volunteers to look after the children, take in mail, watering the flowers, give advice and assistance, are all examples of social support. Social support is also exchanged formally and informally through schools, communities, public services and correctional services. According to Cullen (1994), social support is of theoretical significance in criminology because it serves as a protective factor for victims of crime and is also crucial for the criminal rehabilitation. In correctional services, social support resources and safety nets help to keep released prisoners away from committing further crime. Cullen and colleagues have through several studies indicated that when social support is provided through training in interpersonal skills and through counselling with health and social care services, has led to declined in reoffending behaviour (Colvin, Cullen, & Vander Ven, 2002; Cullen, Wright, & Chamlin, 1999). The potentially harmful consequences of a prison sentence can thus be balanced with the provision of social support. Social development theory considers the family as a basic socializing arena, and that the family's direct influence decreases in late adolescence (Bronfenbrenner, 1986). This understanding has thus supported preventive measures in the family with a focus on childhood and early adolescence (Farrington & Welsh, 2005). Recent Norwegian registry research found an increased risk of being charged with offences among the children of young unmarried mothers, as well as those who have experienced divorce or where the mother has died (Galloway & Pudney, 2011).

1.2 Recidivist Offender

Recent Norwegian research has shown that male recidivist adults are to a much greater extent than other offenders are influenced by the problems of childhood, and that their social and economic problems are more complex (Kjelsberg & Friestad, 2008). The research showed that the chance of repeated incarceration increased by 3.6 times if the person as a child had experienced that one of one's family members had been imprisoned. These men's difficulties in coping with life in many areas means that it will be necessary to address many aspects to obtain changes. …

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