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Crime as Communication: A Review Examining Problem-Solving Competency in Youth Offenders

7 December 2007


This literature review on juvenile delinquency addresses problem-solving competency in youth offenders. Psychological and socioenvironmental theories have different perspectives on the characterological aspects of juvenile delinquency in regards to whether or not delinquent acts are indicative of psychopathology. The literature distinguishes adolescent-limited offenders from lifetime offenders, particularly in that delinquency is more normative in adolescence and can largely depend on the social. environment. Delinquency can, for example, be a way of responding to the pressures of adolescence. It is reinforcing for adolescents to assess their autonomy and win peer approval. The research lacks information on covariates to problem-solving competency such as coping, communication strategies and interpersonal negotiation that can influence problematic behaviors. Therefore, the unique contribution of this review is its comprehensive focus on these covariates of problem-solving competency to better understand decision making of youth offenders. The research additionally lacks effective interventions for increasing problem-solving skills prior to adolescence, and interventions with gangs.


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