To what extent are different types of care environment criminogenic?

Marsh, Kimberley (2008) To what extent are different types of care environment criminogenic? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate young people's experiences within different care environments (residential, secure, foster and kinship) and the extent to which they are criminogenic. The investigation is informed by three key criminological theories: the risk and protective factors paradigm, control theory, anomie, and strain theory. Previous relevant research on different care environments, offending behaviour and associated theoretical explanations are reviewed and informed the development of the specific focus of the primary research. Reviewing the existing literature illustrated the need for the current study. Much of the existing literature shows a high prevalence of offending amongst young people in care and those who have left care, without differentiating between types of placement or offering any theoretical explanation of the over-representation of those who have been in care and offending behaviour. The primary research consists of twelve structured interviews, with three participants from each of the four main types of care environment. The interviews focus on experiences within the care environments, using risk ratings of twelve aspects of life that can be linked to offending (developed from the ASSET assessment form used with young offenders). Interviews explore issues that can be related to control theory, anomie, strain theory and the risk and protective factors paradigm. Exploring criminological theory as it relates to the development of criminal behaviour is used to assess the extent to which different types of care environment are criminogenic. The findings from the primary research are compared to the findings within the existing literature. The research shows that there are strong criminogenic influences within all types of care environment. Interviews with those from residential care show the most criminogenic environments. Interviews with young people from kinship care illustrated stronger criminogenic influences than secure and foster placements. Interviews with those from secure care showed fewer criminogenic influences that those from residential and kinship care. Finally foster placements were the least criminogenic. Although the research supports theoretical explanations of the care environments as 'criminogenic', other explanations of offending behaviour are revealed. 'Prior experiences' and 'individual agency' were apparent in many of the interviews, illustrating that offending behaviour is not exclusively caused by the care environment. Nevertheless, it is concluded that local authorities are failing their duties as corporate parents to provide young people with the care and support they require to resist offending. This thesis advocates a stronger focus on reducing offending by children in care as a more prominent part of the life chances agenda in the future.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:14

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