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Worldview of High-Risk Juvenile Delinquents: Relationship to Decisions to Shoot

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior: An International Journal Volume: 34 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 846-861
Date Published
June 2007
16 pages

This study investigated the world view of juvenile offenders in terms of individual-level beliefs or judgments.


Results indicated two clear worldviews emerging from the serious juvenile delinquents. On the one hand, when presented with the dilemma exercise, about half the sample predicted they would shoot and that it would be a good thing to shoot. They perceived their world as unpredictable and erratic and could envision no future beyond the age of 20 years. On the other hand, half of the juveniles chose nonviolence in the dilemma exercise and perceived that they could be shot themselves or talk their way out of the situation. These juveniles held an optimistic worldview in which they could perceive getting an education and a job. Evidence suggests a connection between these two different worldviews and actual behavior: the shooters in this study were significantly more likely than the nonshooters to have been involved in particularly violent past acts. Future research should attempt to replicate these findings with a larger sample size. Participants were 34 serious juvenile offenders between the ages of 15 and 18 years who were incarcerated in a high-risk unit of a juvenile institution. Participants were interviewed separately about: (1) demographic characteristics; (2) preexisting risk factors for violence; (3) future expectations; and (4) attitudes toward violence. Participants also completed a decisionmaking task that required them to consider a dilemma and then decide whether or not to use violence in response. Data were analyzed using linear hierarchical regression models. Tables, references

Date Published: June 1, 2007