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The oral language skills of young offenders: a pilot invesitgation
journal contributionposted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by E Humber, P Snow
Although there is a large body of evidence attesting to the poor social skills of juvenile offenders, few workers have examined the underlying language skills of this population. This pilot study investigated the language skills of a group of young offenders in comparison to non-offending school students. Data were gathered from 15 community-based young offender males, aged between 13 and 21 years (M = 16.5 years, SD = 2.1) from the Victorian southern region Juvenile Justice Units. The comparison group comprised 15 male students, aged between 15 and 17 years (M = I 6.4 years; SD = 0.5 I) from government high schools in south-eastern metropolitan Melbourne. Each participant completed a narrative discourse task and measures of speed of processing, and abstract language. It was hypothesised that the young offender group would perform more poorly on each of the language tasks than the comparison group. Independent t tests (with a modified alpha level to control for family-wise error rates) showed that there were significant differences in the expected direction, on all language measures. Notwithstanding the pilot nature of the investigation, implications of these findings for both further research and intervention/early intervention are described.