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Environmental factors as indicators of delinquent recidivism

1 January 1984


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between environmental deprivation and delinquent/criminal recidivism. Two questionnaires, the Environmental Deprivation Scale (EDS) and the Self-Report Delinquency Scale (SRD), were mailed to 114 former residents of St. mary's Home for Boys (SMHB), a residential treatment center for delinquent boys. Analysis of the 68 returned questionnaires indicated that no significant relationships were found to exist between delinquent/criminal scores reported on the SRD and environmental deprivation total scores reported on the EDS. The second part of the study used multiple regression techniques to evaluate the relative relationships of the 16 EDS variables and different types of criminal/delinquent behavior. These results suggested that those youths who commit predatory crimes against persons and property are likely to be involved in organizations and to have friends who do not support socially acceptable activities, whereas those youths involved in illegal service and public disorder crimes are likely to be better educated, to take pride in their work but to be unemployed, and to lack pride in their home and neighborhood. The final analyses explored the relationship between IQ, number of behavior incidents and number of criminal offenses committed while at SMHB, as well as history of alcohol/substance abuse against certain offense type categories. No significant relationships were found across any of these measures. In discussing the outcome of the results, suggestions made by the author for future research included (1) investigation of environmental factors that are different from those covered by the EDS which may be of a more subtle nature, such as familial interactions; and (2) inasmuch as the EDS was originally developed for use with an adult male criminal population, some minor adjustments, especially in the scoring, were recommended for use with a younger population. In addition, it was suggested that future researchers might attempt to determine if there are distinguishable patterns of delinquent behaviors and whether these patterns shift over time. It was further recommended that these questions could be explored through longitudinal research projects which would attend not only to post-treatment behavioral measures, but to pre- and during-treatment measures as well.


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