Psychosocial correlates of juvenile delinquency
The present thesis is a detailed and in depth examination of the reasons of re-offending, perceived by young offenders in custody, drawn from the largest Young Offenders' Institution in Scotland. Mainly materialistic and affective reasons were provided, in line with previous research, yet the issue of drugs abuse emerged as salient. The thesis focused on the immediate and more proximally related factors of re-offending, predicting young offenders' decisions to re-offend in the future. One hundred and fifty two young offenders were randomly selected and participated in a structured interview. The interview assessed several background characteristics, their perceptions of the costs and benefits of their future offending, their perceived normative influences in their future offending and their perceptions of desisting from future offending by controlling several criminogenic factors in the future. In addition, the participants completed two self-reported measures: the Parental Bonding Instrument(PBI)- and the Moral Disengagement Scale(MDS). Intentions of re-offending in the future were predicted by perceived control and attitudes towards future offending. Background factors, related and predictive of recidivism and chronic offending, failed to contribute to the prediction of variation of intentions, over and above the contribution of perceptions of control and attitudes of re-offending. The results suggest that attitudes towards offending and perceptions of control over offending provide a parsimonious framework of assessing and predicting young offenders' intentions of reoffending in the future. Moreover, the detailed examination of the control and behavioural beliefs underlying the two constructs, perceived control to desist from offending and attitudes towards offending, can guide to the specific needs that are perceived as criminogenic by the young offenders and potentially inform the content and the direction of any intervention programs within the correctional settings of young offenders aiming at reducing levels of recidivism. Two dimensions of child-rearing practices, parental care and protection, were examined in relation to normative data, background characteristics and cognitive representations of future offending, and it was found that the relation between perceptions of parenting and intentions of re-offending were mediated by attitudes towards offending in the future. In addition, the associations of moral disengagement, as a failure of self-regulation of morality with past recidivism rates and age of initiation of offending were examined, and were found, contrary to expectations, mainly unrelated. However, the overall score of Moral Disengagement of the young offenders was significantly higher in comparison to normative data. The results suggest that Moral Disengagement could be a factor differentiating young people involved in criminal activity and processed by the legal system from young people who are not involved in criminal activity and/or are unaffected by official monitoring. Moral Disengagement, however, might not be related with frequency of offending within groups of young people in the correctional institutions. Moral disengagement was also found mainly unrelated with background characteristics of the young offenders, suggesting that self-regulation of morality is relatively independent from influences from the social environment. Finally, the relations of Moral Disengagement and cognitive representations of offending in the future were discussed in terms of self-regulation of hierarchically organised feedback loops.