Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 857–868 | Cite as

Criminal Recidivism Among Hong Kong Male Juvenile Probationers

  • Wing Hong ChuiEmail author
  • Heng Choon Oliver Chan
Original Paper


Hong Kong juvenile probationers are scarcely studied. The purpose of this study was to explore the 6-month short-term recidivism rate of 92 male juvenile probationers (aged 14–20 years), with and without controlling for their index crime. Generally, 30% of the juveniles reoffended within the 6-month follow-up period (82 and 18% were adjudicated of a nonviolent and violent offense respectively). Eight personality and psychosocial properties (self-esteem, life satisfaction, social bond, positive and negative affect, impulsivity, pro-offending attitudes, and self-perceived life problems) were assessed in both Wave 1 and Wave 2 periods. Only three properties (negative affect, self-perceived life problems, and self-esteem) yielded significant changes within the 6-month period. Beyond the exploratory analyses, another aim of this study was to identify significant predictors of recidivism in these rarely sampled juvenile probationers. Results indicated that type of crime, onset age of delinquent behavior, frequency of delinquency involvement in the past year, social bond, negative affect, impulsivity, and pro-offending attitudes were significant risk factors for recidivism. These findings highlight the need for social workers and other youth justice personnel to prioritize the intervention resources for juvenile probationers in light of the high estimated lifetime cost of crime for young offenders. Cognitive-behavioral treatment modalities with emphases on family functioning and problem-solving strategies were found to be an effective intervention approach for juvenile offenders. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.


Juvenile offenders Probationers Recidivism Risk factors Hong Kong Chinese 



Our sincere thanks are offered to those young people who have honestly shared their views on their probation sentence and offending behavior. The work described in this paper was fully supported by a grant offered by the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Project No. HKU 442208H).


  1. Abnernathy, T. J., Massad, L., & Romano-Dwyer, L. (1995). The relationship between smoking and self-esteem. Adolescence, 30, 899–907.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, L., & Walsh, J. (1998). Level of service inventory-revised. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  3. Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). Rehabilitating criminal justice policy and practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 16, 39–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ang, R. B., & Huan, V. S. (2008). Predictors of recidivism for adolescent offenders in a Singapore sample. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35, 895–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Archwamety, T., & Katsiyannis, A. (1998). Factors related to recidivism among delinquent females at a state correctional facility. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 7, 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F. (1993). Self-esteem: The puzzle of low self-regard. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  7. Benda, B. B. (2001). Factors that discriminate between recidivists, parole violators, and nonrecidivists in a 3-year follow-up of boot camp graduates. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45, 711–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benda, B. B., Corwyn, R. F., & Toombs, N. J. (2001). Recidivism among adolescent serious offenders: Prediction of entry into the correctional system for adults. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 28, 588–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonta, J. (1996). Risk-needs assessment and treatment. In A. T. Harland (Ed.), Choosing correctional options that work: Defining the demand and evaluating the supply (pp. 18–32). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Branden, N. (1994). The six pillars of self-esteem. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  11. Breuk, R. E., Clauser, C. A. C., Stams, G., Slot, N. W., & Doreleijers, T. A. H. (2007). The validity of questionnaire self-report psychopathology and parent-child relationship quality in juvenile delinquents with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Adolescence, 30, 761–771.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Broadhurst, R., & Loh, N. (2003). The probabilities of sex offender re-arrest. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 13, 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carver, C. S. (2005). Impulse and constraint: Perspectives from personality psychology, convergence with theory in other areas, and potential for integration. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 312–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Caspi, A., Moffitt, P. A., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., Krueger, R. F., & Schmutte, P. S. (1994). Are some people crime-prone? Replications of the personality-crime relationship across countries, genders, races, and methods. Criminology, 32, 163–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chan, W. T. (1996). Social work and services for offenders. In I. Chi & S. K. Cheung (Eds.), Social work in Hong Kong (pp. 98–111). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Social Workers Association.Google Scholar
  16. Chan, D. W. (2009). Orientations to happiness and subjective well-being among Chinese prospective and in-service teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 29, 139–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chan, D. W. (2010). Gratitude, gratitude intervention and subjective well-being among Chinese school teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 30, 139–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chan, K. L. (2011a). Association between childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual victimization in a representative sample in Hong Kong Chinese. Child Abuse and Neglect, 35, 220–229.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chan, K. L. (2011b). Co-occurrence of intimate partner violence and child abuse in Hong Kong Chinese families. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26, 1322–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chapple, C. L., McQuillan, J. A., & Berdahl, T. A. (2005). Gender, social bonds, and delinquency: A comparison of boys’ and girls’ models. Social Science Research, 34, 357–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cheuk, W. H., Wong, K. S., & Rosen, S. (2011). The effects of being spurned and self-esteem on depersonalization and coping preferences in kindergarten teachers: The case of Hong Kong. Social Psychology of Education, 14, 57–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chui, W. H. (2002). The social work model of probation supervision for offenders in Hong Kong. Probation Journal, 49, 297–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chui, W. H. (2003). Experiences of probation supervision in Hong Kong: Listening to the young adult probationers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31, 567–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chui, W. H. (2004). Adult offenders on probation in Hong Kong: An exploratory study. British Journal of Social Work, 34, 443–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Chui, W. H. (2006). Factors associated with the one-year probation outcome: A self-report study in Hong Kong. Asian Journal of Criminology, 1, 155–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Chui, W. H. (2008). Community sentences. In W. H. Chui & T. W. Lo (Eds.), Understanding criminal justice in Hong Kong (pp. 201–223). Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Chui, W. H., & Chan, H. C. (2011). Social bonds and male juvenile delinquency while on probation: An exploratory test in Hong Kong. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 2329–2334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Chui, W. H., & Nellis, M. (Eds.). (2003). Moving probation forward: Evidence, arguments, and practice. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  29. Cohen, M. A. (1998). The monetary value of saving a high risk youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 5–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Cohen, M. A., Piquero, A. R., & Jennings, W. G. (2010). Studying the costs of crime across offender trajectories. Criminology and Public Policy, 9, 279–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Cottle, C. C., Lee, R. J., & Heilbrun, K. (2001). The prediction of criminal recidivism in juveniles: A meta-analysis. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 28, 367–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Cronbach, L. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Entorf, H., & Spengler, H. (2002). Crime in Europe: Causes and consequences. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  36. Eysenck, S. B. G., & Eysenck, H. J. (1977). The place of impulsiveness in a dimensional system of personality description. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 16, 57–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Frude, N., Honess, T., & Maguire, M. (2008). CRIME-PICS II manual (3rd ed.). Cardiff: Michael and Associates.Google Scholar
  38. Fu, A., Ko, H., Wu, J. Y., Cherng, B., & Cheng, C. (2007). Impulsivity and expectancy in risk for alcohol use: Comparing male and female college students in Taiwan. Addictive Behavior, 32, 1887–1896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ganzer, V. J., & Sarason, I. G. (1973). Variables associated with recidivism among juvenile delinquents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40, 1–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ge, X., Donnellan, M. B., & Wenk, E. (2003). Differences in personality and patterns of recidivism between early starters and other serious male offenders. The Journal of the American Academy and the Law, 31, 68–77.Google Scholar
  41. Government, Hong. Kong. (1985). Probation of offender ordinance (chapter 298). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Google Scholar
  42. Gray, P. (1999). Community corrections and the experiences of young male offenders in the Hong Kong youth justice system. Journal of Social Policy, 28, 577–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Healy, D. (2010). Betwixt and between: The role of psychosocial factors in the early stages of desistance. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 47, 419–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Henggeler, S. W., Schoenwald, S. K., Borduin, C. M., Rowland, M. D., & Cunningham, P. B. (1998). Multisystemic treatment of antisocial behavior in youth. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  45. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  46. Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. (2010). Hong Kong annual digest of statistics. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  47. Hong Kong Police Force (2011). Hong Kong crime statistics. Available online:
  48. Hong Kong Social Welfare Department. (2010). Social welfare services in figures. Hong Kong: Social Welfare Department.Google Scholar
  49. Hosmer, D. W., & Lemeshow, S. (2000). Applied logistic regression (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Jung, S., & Rawana, E. P. (1999). Risk and need assessment of juvenile offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 26, 69–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Katsiyannis, A., & Archwamety, T. (1997). Factors related to recidivism among delinquent youths in a state correctional facility. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 6, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Katsiyannis, A., Zhang, D., Barrett, D. E., & Flaska, T. (2004). Background and psychosocial variables associated with recidivism among adolescent males: A 3-year investigation. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12, 23–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kleinbaum, D. G., & Klein, M. (2010). Logistic regression: A self-learning text (3rd ed.). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  54. Krueger, R. F., Schmutte, P. S., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Campell, K., & Silva, P. A. (1994). Personality traits are linked to crime among men and women: Evidence from a birth cohort. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 328–338.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lattimore, P. K., Visher, C. A., & Linster, R. L. (1995). Predicting rearrest for violence among serious youthful offenders. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 32, 54–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Leung, A. S. M., Cheung, Y. H., & Liu, X. (2011). The relations between life domain satisfaction and subjective well-being. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 26, 155–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Li, C., Ko, H., Weng, L., Liau, L., & Lu, R. (2002). The development of an impulsiveness scale: Psychometric properties and relation to antisocial personality disorders. Chinese Journal of Psychology, 44, 109–119.Google Scholar
  58. Liu, W., Chan, R. C. K., Wang, L., Huang, J., Cheung, E. F. C., Gong, Q., et al. (2011). Deficits in sustaining reward responses in subsyndromal and syndromal major depression. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 35, 1045–1052.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Loeber, R., & Dishion, T. (1983). Early predictors of male delinquency: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 94, 68–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Loeber, R., & Farrington, D. P. (2000). Young children who commit crime: Epidemiology, developmental origins, risk factors, early interventions, and policy implications. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 737–762.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Loeber, R., Farrington, D. P., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., & Raskin-White, H. (2008). Violence serious theft: Development and prediction from childhood to adulthood. New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  62. Ludwig, J. (2010). The costs of crime. Criminology and Public Policy, 9, 307–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Lueger, R. J., & Cadman, W. (1982). Variables associated with recidivism and program termination of delinquent adolescents. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 861–863.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Maller, R. A., & Zhou, X. (1996). Survival analysis with long-term survivors. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley.Google Scholar
  65. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Moore, D. R., Chamberlain, P., & Mukai, L. (1979). Children at risk for delinquency: A follow-up comparison of stealing and aggression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1, 345–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Mulder, E., Brand, E., Bullens, R., & van Marle, H. (2011). Risk factors for overall recidivism and severity recidivism in serious juvenile offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 55, 118–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Myner, J., Santman, J., Cappelletty, G., & Perlmutter, B. (1998). Variables related to recidivism among juvenile offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 42, 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Nagin, D., & Trembley, R. E. (1999). Trajectories of boys’ physical aggression, opposition, and hyperactivity on the path to physically violent and nonviolent juvenile delinquency. Child Development, 70, 1181–1196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Nunnally, J. (1978). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  71. O’Brien, R. (2010). Offender trajectories, crime trends, and costs: An invited policy essay on studying the costs of crime across offender trajectories. Criminology and Public Policy, 9, 313–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Patton, J. H., Stanford, M. S., & Barratt, E. S. (1995). Factor structure of the Barratt impulsiveness scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 768–774.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Robbins, R. N., & Bryan, A. (2004). Relationships between future orientation, impulsive sensation seeking, and risk behavior among adjudicated adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19, 428–445.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  76. Shek, D. T. L. (2004). Chinese cultural beliefs about adversity: Its relationship to psychological well-being, school adjustment and problem behavior in Chinese adolescents with the without economic disadvantages. Childhood, 11, 63–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Shek, D. T. L. (2005). Paternal and maternal influences on the psychological well-being, substance abuse, and delinquency of Chinese adolescents experiencing economic disadvantage. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 219–234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Sijtsma, K. (2009). On the use, the misuse, and the very limited usefulness of Cronbach’s alpha. Psychometrika, 74, 107–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Straus, M. A., & Kantor, G. K. (2005). Definition and measurement of neglectful behavior: Some principles and guidelines. Child Abuse and Neglect, 29, 19–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sun, R. C. F., & Shek, D. T. L. (2010). Life satisfaction, positive youth development, and problem behavior among Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 95, 455–474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Tennenbaum, D. J. (1977). Personality and criminality: A summary and implications of the literature. Journal of Criminal Justice, 5, 225–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tse, W. S., Wu, J., & Poon, K. (2011). Motivation for achievement as perceived resource value in social rank theory of depression: A structural equation modeling analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 1034–1038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Van der Put, C. E., Deković, M., Stams, G. J. J. M., van der Laan, P. H., Hoeve, M., & Van Amelsfort, L. (2011a). Changes in risk factors during adolescence: Implications for risk assessment. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38, 248–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Van der Put, C. E., Stams, G. J. J. M., Hoeve, M., Deković, M., Spanjaard, H. J. M., van der Laan, P. H., et al. (2011). Changes in the relative importance of dynamic risk factors for recidivism during adolescence. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Available online. doi: 10.1177/0306624X11398462.
  85. Vermeiren, R., de Clippele, A., & Deboutte, D. (2000). Eight month follow-up of delinquent adolescents: Predictors of short-term outcome. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 250, 133–138.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Welsh, B. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2000). Monetary costs and benefits of crime prevention programs. In M. H. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A review of research, vol. 27. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  88. Wierson, M., & Forehand, R. (1995). Predicting recidivism in juvenile delinquents: The role of mental health diagnoses and the qualification of conclusions by race. Behavior Research and Therapy, 33, 63–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Willis, G. M., & Grace, R. C. (2009). Assessment of community reintegration planning for sex offenders: Poor planning predicts recidivism. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36, 494–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wood, J., Kade, C., & Sidhu, M. (2009). What works for offenders and staff: Comparing two multi-agency approaches to offender resettlement. Psychology, Crime, and Law, 15, 661–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Yeung, D. Y., Wong, C. K. M., & Lok, D. P. P. (2011). Emotion regulation mediates age differences in emotions. Aging and Mental Health, 15, 414–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Work and Social AdministrationThe University of Hong KongHong KongSAR
  2. 2.Department of CriminologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations