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Primary Caregiver Influence on Youth Correctional Misconduct

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Abstract

Extensive research has been conducted on the causes and factors associated with juvenile delinquency. Work has consistently revealed that family has a significant influence on the likelihood of youth crime. More specifically family structure and primary caregiver significantly influence the probability of juvenile delinquency in the community. But minimal work has examined the influence of family structure on the likelihood of misconduct among incarcerated youth. The current study helps to fill this gap in the literature by examining the relationship between misconduct among youth incarcerated in the California Division of Juvenile Justice and the youth’s primary caregiver type (both parents, single parent, other). Results highlight a significant association between violent misconduct and primary caregiver type; youth are less likely to participate in violent misconduct if they report having both parents as their primary caregiver. The findings have theoretical implications, specifically the need to understand what influences from the community youth are importing into correctional settings. There are also implications for policy and practice; specifically, the importance of taking primary caregiver type into consideration for placement within a facility, and treatment considerations.

Highlights

  • We examined the relationship between youth institutional misconduct and primary caregiver.

  • Analyses revealed that youth were less likely to engage in violent misconduct if they reported having a both parents as their primary caregiver(s).

  • Primary caregiver status predicted the likelihood of violent misconduct, but not misconduct in general.

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted with the support of funding from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Agreement #5600001351. The opinions expressed herein represent those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the CDCR. Data collection was conducted with the approval of the appropriate University Institutional Review Board.

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Scott, D., Goulette, N. & Carson, S. Primary Caregiver Influence on Youth Correctional Misconduct. J Child Fam Stud 31, 3314–3325 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-022-02412-z

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