ERG SES E 01, Social Exclusion and Education
Crime and offending by children and young people receives significant attention in political, academic and media rhetoric across the globe. The number of children and young people entering custody in the United Kingdom has reduced over the past decade; with similar reductions observed across Europe. For example, the custodial sentences imposed on children and young people within the Europe reduced 4% each year between 2008 and 2014, with the increase in community alternatives (Pruin and Dunkel, 2015). Identifying ‘what works?’ in reducing the offending of children and young people is central to developing strategies and initiatives. Concerns over the offending behaviour of children and young people has resulted in European countries developing special strategies and initiatives to reduce offending by children and young people. For example, Germany introduced major reforms in 1990, with special principles guiding the process for managing children and young people aged 14-18 years-old and young adults aged 18-21 years-old (under special circumstances) (Oberwittler and Hofer, 2005). In 2004, the United Kingdom Home Office released a report stating that education “plays a central role in measures to prevent actual or potential offending amongst their pupils as well as improve their ‘life chances’” (Home Office, 2004:5). This report was supported by research conducted by Rutter, Giller and Hagell (1998) which suggested that the combination of low IQ and poor academic achievement indicate the potential for anti-social behaviour. Longitudinal data from the study conducted by Rutter et al. (1998) showed that children and young people involved in anti-social behaviour have lower opportunities for academic success, with higher rates of school dropout. The Transforming Youth Custody report found that 50 per cent of children and young people aged 15 to 17 years-old were entering custody with literacy levels the equivalent of children aged between 7 and 11 years-old (Ministry of Justice, 2014). From the children and young people entering custody, 18 per cent had statements of special educational needs and 36 per cent ceased attending school at 14 years-old. Bryan (2004) identified that young men aged between 18 and 21 years-old in Youth Offending Institutes (YOI) had a high proportion of language and literacy difficulties. Results from Bryan’s research found 37 per cent of young people reported literacy problems and 50 per cent of children and young people reported poor memory, with a number of participants attributing this difficult to illegal drug use. Bryan (2004) completed tests with children and young people, finding difficulties present in vocabulary (43 per cent, grammatical competency (73 per cent), comprehension (23 per cent) and picture description (47per cent). This prior research highlights the issues associated with low levels of education for children and young people. Such concerns indicate the importance of exploring the educational background of children and young people entering custody and the importance of addressing educational issues before children and young people enter custody. However, despite this significant gap in the literature, no such research has to date been completed. The application of educational measures for children and young people entering custody is equally important in Europe. Research conducted by Pruin and Dunkel (2015) found 57 per cent of European countries applied an educational measure to youth justice. This research paper seeks to understand how the educational background of young people in custody (and their perceptions of education) shapes recidivist outcomes. Research exploring the educational backgrounds of children and young people in custody is limited in Europe, with existing research focused on offending and desistance. This research fills a gap in existing research on the importance of education for children and young people involved in offending behaviour.
1) Bryan, K. (2004) Language and communication difficulties in juvenile offenders. International journal of language & communication disorders. 2004, 39(3), 391-400. 2) Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2): 77-101. 3) Dunkel, F. (2016) Youth Justice in Germany. Oxford Handbooks Online. Available at http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935383.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935383-e-68?print=pdf. Accessed on 29/11/2016. 4) Home Office (2004) The role of education in enhancing life chances and preventing offending. Available online at: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/8465/1/dpr19.pdf. Accessed on: 21 November 2016. 5) Ministry of Justice (2014) Transforming Youth Custody – Government response to the consultation. Available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273402/transforming-youth-custody-consultation-response.pdf. Accessed on 06 November 2016. 6) Oberwittler, D. and Hofer, S. (2005) Crime and Justice in Germany – An analysis of recent trends and research. European Journal of Criminology, 2: 465-508. 7) Onwuegbuzie, A. J., and Collins, K. M. T. (2007). A typology of mixed methods sampling designs in social science research. The Qualitative Report, 12, 281-316. 8) Pruin, I. and Dunkel, F. (2015) Better in Europe? European responses to young adult offending. Available online at: http://www.t2a.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/T2A_Better-in-Europe_Report-_online.pdf. Accessed on 28 November 2016.
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