Psychological characteristics of male 14- to 20-year-olds on probation and in a residential home in Hong Kong

Wing Hong Chui, Heng Choon Oliver Chan
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health: CBMH 2013, 23 (1): 41-55

BACKGROUND: Little research has been conducted with Hong Kong juvenile probationers.

AIMS: The goals of this study are to examine the psychological characteristics of 14- to 20-year-old male probationers and to test their relationship with broad types of offending - violent and nonviolent.

METHODS: Participants were drawn from the only transitional housing facility for juvenile probationers aged 14-20 years. Offence types and numbers were rated from self-report. Various schedules were rated at interview with consenting young men to describe them in terms of eight psychological characteristics: self-esteem, life satisfaction, social bonding, positive affect, negative affect, impulsivity, pro-criminal attitude and self-perceived life problems.

RESULTS: A total of 113 young men completed the assessment, 90% of those eligible. The average psychological profile of these young men was fairly typical for their communities. Pro-criminal attitudes, however, correlated with both main types of offending, whereas main affective state was differently associated. Predominantly, negative affect was associated with violent offending and predominantly positive affect with nonviolent offending.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants in this study generally reported higher levels of positive psychological well-being than in previous nondelinquent Chinese samples. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE AND FUTURE RESEARCH: A case-control study comparing such offenders with nondelinquents is required to clarify these findings. A longitudinal design is now indicated to test the direction of relationships between psychological indicators and offending. These steps would be useful precursors to a service evaluation of probation hostels for young offenders. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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