Young offenders' perspectives on their literacy and communication skills

Hopkins, T. and Clegg, J. and Stackhouse, J. (2016) Young offenders' perspectives on their literacy and communication skills. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 51 (1). pp. 95-109. ISSN 13682822 (ISSN)

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Abstract

Background Research has revealed that the youth offending population has low language ability when assessed on standardized language measures. However, little is known about the perceptions young offenders (YOs) have of their own literacy ability and their communicative interactions with others. Such knowledge might further our understanding of the possible association between language, literacy and offending behaviour. Aims This study investigates the perceptions and experiences YOs have of using literacy and communicating with others. It addresses the following questions. How satisfied are YOs with their own literacy and communication skills and how important do YOs perceive these to be? How much do YOs believe they understand others in their communicative interactions? How satisfied are YOs with their communicative interactions with others and how does this influence conflict at home, school, and in the youth justice system? Methods & Procedures An opportunity sample of 31 YOs on court orders were recruited from a local youth offending service, excluding any who did not have English as a first language or were in receipt of current speech and language therapy provision. Twenty-six qualitative individual semi-structured interviews and two focus group interviews were carried out and analysed using a framework analysis method. Outcomes & Results Themes revealed participants were dissatisfied with their communication and literacy ability. Other themes identified were difficulty in understanding others, a perceived lack of support and respect gained from others, and a negative impact of communication on self-esteem. The findings suggest that YOs often found themselves in disputes with authority figures, but that they avoided using positive communication to solve such conflicts and also avoided confiding in others. Conclusions & Implications The findings support the results found from quantitative research on the language abilities of YOs. This emphasizes the value in adopting qualitative methodology to understand the relationship between literacy, communication skills and offending behaviour in YOs. The findings highlight a need for increased language, literacy and communication training, and support for YOs, and for the staff who work alongside them. © 2015 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: behaviour, language, literacy, communication skill, court, criminal justice, doctor patient relation, human, human experiment, juvenile, offender, perception, quantitative study, self esteem, semi structured interview, speech therapy, staff
Subjects: B600 Aural and Oral Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Social Care, Health and Related Research (C-SHARR) > Health Sciences
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
UoA Collections > UoA 03: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing & Pharmacy
Depositing User: Miss Jessica Baylis
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 12:14
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2017 10:43
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/540

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