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Youth Offending in Relation to Young People as Multiple Service Users

NCJ Number
Rob White
Date Published
March 2003
71 pages
This paper examines the relationship between chronic youth offending and patterns of use of services by young people.
For analysis purposes, this paper considers “services” to include criminal justice agencies as well as educational, welfare, health, and commercial services. The central research question asks how the experiences of young people with multiple service providers lead to persistent offending behavior. The research literature concerning the causes of offending are reviewed and current models of intervention are described. The most influential model of juvenile offending and crime prevention in Australia focuses on targeting “multiple risk and protective factors at multiple levels and at multiple life phases and transition points in an individual’s development.” According to this approach, service provision should take both universalistic and selective forms, capable of reaching all youth while simultaneously targeting some in particular. The next section reviews the services that the Youth Justice Committee of the National Crime Prevention Council of Canada recommends as effective in preventing youth crime which include “programs that set the stage for community-based prevention,” early intervention programs, preventative support, and activities for older children and youth. In Britain, the Home Office evaluates prevention programs in three main categories: families, schools, and support and leisure. A key element of all intervention programs is the involvement of the community in ensuring the health and well-being of youth. The next section considers the nature of social institutions and identifies three main types of institutions that predominate in the lives of youth: coercive, developmental, and commercial. The social and legal frameworks in which services are provided to youth are examined, the principles of service provision are described, and issues surrounding the social inclusion and exclusion of youth are explored. Next, service provision is examined, including the areas in which services are available to youth and the nature of these services. A case study is presented that illustrates the various services and related legislation that focuses on the family as the source of the offending behavior. Issues for multiple service users are considered and include problems of access, schooling and education issues, work and welfare issues, and a general lack of priority and responsibility among service providers. The final section identifies research and methodological questions for future research. Charts, tables, references