Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec

Abstract

This study examines the risk factors that increase an adolescent’s chance of engaging in delinquency and the protective factors that reduce the risk of delinquency. The risk and protective factors were examined through the ecological paradigm, which included the individual, family/peers, and neighborhood/community domains. This study used a qualitative method to examine the risk and protective factors through the perspective of professionals working in the juvenile justice system. Data was collected from a sample of professionals working at all levels of the juvenile justice system (N=6, average length of experience in working with youth=21 years), which included juvenile judges, assistant county attorneys, and probation officers. This study has found that professionals, who are responsible for the decision-making in the juvenile justice system, base their decision-making on the risk and protective factors that a youth presents. The study has also revealed that youth in the criminal justice possess more risk factors than protective factors. Risk and protective factor themes are identified in each of the domains. Implications for social work and interventions within each domain are discussed.

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