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Young Violent Offender

NCJ Number
T Vinson; W Hemphill
Date Published
77 pages
A study comparing 50 violent male offenders between 14 and 18 years from the Minda Children's Court in Sydney, Australia, with 50 boys convicted of property offenses failed to uncover any factors that distinguished the violent juveniles from other delinquents.
Between mid-1975 and mid-1976, data were collected on the two groups from standard psychological tests administered to all children appearing before the court and interviews with children and families selected for the study. The boys in the violent offender group had played a direct part in a robbery, sexual and nonsexual assault, or homicide. Past and present offenses of boys in the comparison sample had been confined to property crimes. Variables examined included personal/social attributes, relationships with family, possible brain damage, birth history, self-image, dimensions of personality, and aggression. A comparison of personal/social attributes revealed an almost identical profile for both groups. However, significant differences appeared between the delinquents and the general community. For example, almost two out of every five members of both delinquent groups had an IQ below 90, more than twice the number found in the general population. A larger proportion of the violent offenders than the property offenders were not subjected to adult supervision after school or work, but violent offenders were far more likely to have no previous criminal history. Aggression scores, birth history, date, and brain dysfunction indicators failed to reveal any differences between the two groups. The only dimension of personality on which the groups differed was neurotic disturbed, with twice as many of the violent offenders obtaining a low score. These findings provide little support for the view that young offenders constitute an identifiable group that can be targeted for special prevention efforts. Tables, the test instruments, and 35 references are included.