Uncouth Youth? Building a profile of children who come into contact with the WA Children’s Court
This novel project seeks to identify the risk factors associated with juvenile offending within a Western Australian context. This is done through auditing court reports providing an in-depth content analysis of a child’s personal living conditions, education levels, substance use, health, and an analysis of a young person’s situation as described by their Juvenile Justice Officer.
In order to examine trends over time, we have examined juvenile offender reports at 5 years intervals, beginning in 1994 at the commencement of the Young Offender Act, up until 2009.
Intervention efforts and violence prevention programmes targeted at juvenile offenders rely on identifying protective and risk factors and determining when in the course of development they emerge. In order to be effective, such efforts must be appropriate to a youth’s stage of development. Therefore, the study of risk factors is crucial to the development of prevention programs that commonly have limited funding and staffing.
Pinpointing which risk factors are associated with anti social and offending behaviour for particular sets of youth at specific stages of their development, can help programs in Western Australia target their efforts in a more cost-effective and efficient manner.