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“Journey's end”: statistical pathways into offending for adults with specific learning difficulties

Stephen J. Macdonald (Based in the Department of Social Science, The University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK)

Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2042-0927

Article publication date: 8 June 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to understand how social barriers might result in people with specific learning difficulties coming in contact with the criminal justice system in the UK. The study seeks to apply the social model of disability to conceptualise a statistical relationship between socio‐economic status and key life events for people with specific learning difficulties (i.e. diagnosis, educational achievements, and employment).

Design/methodology/approach

A cluster sample was used to obtain statistical data from a questionnaire based survey. The study collected quantitative and qualitative data on the life experiences of people with specific learning difficulties (n=77). The paper analyses the quantitative data and discovers statistically significant relationships (p≤0.05) concerning socio‐economic status, specific learning difficulties and crime.

Findings

Within the data findings age of diagnosis is significantly (p≤0.00) affected when comparing socio‐economic status with the offender and non‐offender group in the study. Furthermore, the educational achievements (p≤0.00) and employment/unemployment levels (p≤0.00) are dramatically altered by socio‐economic status specifically for offenders with specific learning difficulties. These relationships have been conceptualised using the social model of SpLD in terms of barriers to exclusion.

Originality/value

To date very few studies have used the social model of disability to understand pathways into offending for people with learning difficulties. To the author's knowledge this is the first study to apply a quantitative analysis to the concept of disabling barriers and criminality.

Keywords

Citation

Macdonald, S.J. (2012), "“Journey's end”: statistical pathways into offending for adults with specific learning difficulties", Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 85-97. https://doi.org/10.1108/20420921211280079

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited