Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

How Do Former Juvenile Delinquents Describe Their Educational Experiences: A Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

How Do Former Juvenile Delinquents Describe Their Educational Experiences: A Case Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

Juvenile delinquency is a serious social problem. While there have been multiple studies relating to the causes of delinquency, little research exists that examines the lived experiences of the juveniles themselves. Few studies give a voice to the juvenile. Through understanding the descriptions of the juvenile delinquent's lived experiences we may gain insight into the juvenile, which may help in predicting and preventing juvenile delinquent behavior. One area that has been identified as a possible factor in delinquency is the educational environment. This study will provide a description of the educational experiences of juvenile delinquents. Using a qualitative case study approach, the researcher examined the descriptions of educational experiences as given by former juvenile delinquents. From a theoretical perspective in psychology, specifically educational psychology, the factors that impact learning from both a positive and a negative perspective are in essence the overall focus. Through understanding of the former juvenile's description it may be possible to identify common experiences shared by the sample population.

Introduction

Current research has identified multiple factors that may contribute to delinquent behaviors. Among these factors are child abuse and neglect, parenting behaviors, peer delinquent behaviors, educational issues, and a personal history of childhood maladjustment. Research conducted by Schwartz, Rendon, and Chang-Ming (1994) studied the idea that delinquent behaviors were the direct result of child abuse and neglect. Chung and Steinberg (2006) studied the roles of environment, parenting behaviors, and peer delinquent behaviors in the onset of delinquency. Smith (2008) examined the connection between the occurrence of delinquent behaviors and a history of emotional and behavioral problems. Johnson (2009) lists such factors as social class, family dynamics, and the educational system as possible contributors. While all of these factors are likely contributors to the problem it is difficult to identify a direct causal link. From an ethical standpoint the researcher cannot expose an individual to conditions that are suspected to cause delinquent behaviors and see if these behaviors develop.

The purpose of this study was to understand the lived educational experiences of former adjudicated youth. Through a series of interviews with former adjudicated juvenile offenders who, at one time, were in placement, the researcher examined the question "How do prior juvenile delinquents describe their educational experiences?"

The goal of this study was to develop a detailed description of the lived educational experiences of former juvenile delinquents. From a theoretical educational psychology perspective educational experiences play a role in the success and/or failure of the individual. Social learning theory, as proposed by Bandura (1977b), suggests much of the learning that occurs is observational learning. If Bandura is correct, deviant or delinquent behavior may be acquired as a result of the individual's exposure to the delinquent behaviors of others. With that in mind, this study examined the lived experiences of former delinquents in relation to their experiences in an educational setting as well as social relationships between the individual and the social groups to which they belonged. This was to include their relationships with peers and teachers. If the ideas behind Bandura's (1977b) social learning theory are correct, evidence of negative peer relationships, exposure to negative peers, and negative student-teacher relationships should be evident in the lived experiences of these individuals.

Through the careful study of the lived experiences of the participants and the application of social learning theory this study advances the existing knowledge and understanding of the lived experiences of former adjudicated youth in the educational setting.

The following research question guided this study: How do prior juvenile delinquents describe their educational experiences? …

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