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Elucidating the treatment needs of gang‐affiliated youth offenders

Chi Meng Chu (Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and Senior Clinical and Forensic Psychologist in Clinical and Forensic Psychology Branch, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Singapore)
Michael Daffern (Senior Lecturer, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia and Division of Psychiatry, School of Community Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Stuart D.M. Thomas (Senior Lecturer, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia)
Jia Ying Lim (Psychologist, Private Practice, Singapore)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 15 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Gang affiliation is strongly associated with youth crime. Although gang prevention, intervention and suppression programmes have been used to reduce affiliation and manage youth gang‐related activities, the effectiveness of these approaches is questionable. Further, comprehensive programmes supporting disengagement from gangs that also address the actual criminal behaviours of gang‐affiliated youth are rare. Arguably, these are necessary if the goal of intervention is to reduce criminal behaviour and support disengagement from gangs. This paper aims to address these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study sought to elucidate the criminogenic needs of gang‐ and nongang‐affiliated youth offenders (n=165) using two commonly used risk/need assessment instruments, the structured assessment of violence risk in youth (SAVRY) and the youth level of service/case management inventory (YLS/CMI).

Findings

The results revealed that gang‐ and nongang‐affiliated youth offenders had similar criminogenic need profiles except for one difference on an item measuring peer delinquency.

Practical implications

Gang‐affiliated youth offenders have comparable criminogenic needs to other youth offenders. These needs require intervention if a reduction in crime is desired, and since gang‐affiliated youth offenders are more likely to re‐offend than those that are nongang‐affiliated, these results also suggest that there may be additional needs, beyond those assessed by the SAVRY and YLS/CMI, which should be investigated and considered in rehabilitation programmes.

Originality/value

Few studies have directly compared the risk and needs profiles between gang‐ and nongang‐affiliated youth offenders using standardised risk assessment measures; this study may be relevant to professionals working in the juvenile justice and offender rehabilitation arenas.

Keywords

Citation

Meng Chu, C., Daffern, M., Thomas, S.D.M. and Ying Lim, J. (2011), "Elucidating the treatment needs of gang‐affiliated youth offenders", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 129-140. https://doi.org/10.1108/17596591111154167

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited