Forensic psychology undertakes a significant assessment of juvenile delinquency as a fundamental challenge. The concept is portrayed as an essential field responsible for mitigating crime and delinquency challenges. However, there has been an upsurge in juvenile delinquency trends of repeated offenses, stimulating approaches such as risk diversion programs aimed at reducing recidivism (Wylie et al., 2019). Nonetheless, the attribute has been flagged as a deficiency in the risk assessment frameworks determining the potential of reoffence when releasing delinquents (Vitopoulos et al., 2018). The assumptions present that the frameworks existing are ineffective and present a gap in their application of determining the risk of recidivism and the indicators considered. The limitations, therefore, are considered to offer inappropriate judgment of juvenile delinquents and poor rehabilitation techniques.
As such, the research will cover the factors and theories that influence recidivism in juvenile delinquents to inform the Risk-need-Responsiveness model used to manage juvenile delinquency. The RNR models the approach taken to assess the juvenile risk of (re)offending and establish needs and responsive techniques to prevent recidivism (Fairfax-Columbo et al., 2018). Thus, this study’s thesis statement connotes gaps in juvenile delinquency risk analysis and rehabilitation, assuming that the RNR program (Risk-need-Responsiveness) is rigid, requiring modification to reduce recidivism rates effectively.
Risk Factors for Recidivism Risk Prediction and Rehabilitation
Recidivism and Transient Immaturity
Recidivism is the central challenge under study in this discourse, highlighting the challenge in predicting juvenile delinquency. Fairfax-Columbo et al. (2019) disclosed that there had been a transition in the conceptualization of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) and life without parole (LWOP) parameters as the harshest sentences that can be sentenced on individuals. The parameters for risk assessment were idealized based on the delinquents’ incorrigibility, referring to the degree to which an individual is irreparably corrupted. Therefore, sentencing considers that delinquents have no potential to change or recline from criminal behavior.
The concept has been criticized based on a psychological basis, considering the potential of rehabilitating juvenile delinquents and reducing recidivism. Consequently, Fairfax-Columbo et al. (2019) criticized the assumption arguing a new discourse considering delinquency or probability of recidivism to be a factor of transient immaturity as a state of reducing risk or probability over time (age/maturity). As such, statistics indicate that criminal restraint is experienced between ages 20-30 through gradual resistance as follows (56.8% among Ages 19-26, 38.4% among Ages 27 and 36, 23.2% among Ages 37 and 46, and 10.7% among Ages 47 and 56) (Fairfax-Columbo et al., 2019). The inference implied that the RNR framework could be modified into factoring age as a defining element in predicting recidivism.
Recidivism and Trauma Experiences
On the other hand, trauma is a significant element of note in analyzing recidivism factors. Vitopoulos et al. (2018) presented findings based on a survey delineating the tendencies of trauma as the most influential trait promoting an increasing juvenile crime rate. The assumption was factored in that childhood experiences instigate psychological changes that affect the children’s behaviors in the future. The behavior change is then factored to induce negative impacts stimulating behavioral challenges of delinquency. As such, Vitopoulos et al. (2018) considered childhood adversity, maltreatment, and post-traumatic stress disorder interconnected as recidivism predictors. Therefore, in analyzing risk factors and needs for rehabilitating delinquents, their trauma histories are essential as part of the RNR process.
Gender and Trauma in Juvenile Delinquency
Moreover, there have been contemporary analyses of trauma as a risk factor that incorporates gendered ideologies. The outcome of such discourses presents that female delinquents were more susceptible to trauma as a risk factor for their criminal offenses. Consequently, Vitopoulos et al. (2018) hypothesized that female delinquents presented more rates of childhood maltreatment and traumatic events. They tested the assumption by factoring the Youth Reported Stress Post Traumatic Stress trends, determining a higher traumatic assessment score in the female respondents (M= 12.00, SD = 6.20) than in the male respondents (M= 9.00, SD = 4.90) in their research (Vitopoulos et al., 2018). Moreover, considering maltreatment experiences, 45% of female respondents experienced more than two maltreatment in contrast to boys, who accounted for 26% (Vitopoulos et al., 2018). The data indicates that females are more susceptible to maltreatment. However, RNR frameworks are gender-neutral despite identifying trauma as a gender-salient phenomenon.
Juvenile Delinquency and Personality Traits
Central themes in Forensic Science have determined the integral characteristics that influence juvenile delinquency. Stankovic et al. (2019) idealized that the personality traits that can offer sufficient predictive insight into recidivism (reoffence) may include the delinquents’ openness to experience, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, aggressiveness, positive valence, and negative valence. In the research, delinquents possessed low characteristics of conscientiousness and neuroticism. Consequently, negative valence influences negative self-perceptions that reinforce delinquency or crime. The agglomeration of these factors reinforces the formation of manipulative features in delinquents that can be factored in predicting the probability of their (re)offense (Stankovic et al., 2019). As such, there are gaps in rehabilitative systems applied in handling juvenile delinquents based on their personalities.
Recidivism and Family Interactions
On the other hand, some studies look into family experiences in delinquency as risk factors. Stankovic et al. (2019) compared delinquents and non-delinquents on a Quality of Family Interaction scale, an effective tool that determined the effects of childhood emotional and physical experiences in delinquents. Based on the assumption of the QFI scale, the study revealed that delinquents had a high incidence of acceptance by their mothers, presenting a negative family experience (Stankovic et al., 2019). These factors indicate the impact of family experiences as a gap in the RNR framework as they are not inclusive in the framework.
Conclusively, the research provides a holistic analysis of the vital issues of enhancing the RNR model for risk assessment and response. The literary findings present a basis for the significant gaps in forensic psychology that fail to integrate comprehensive interventions in managing and reducing juvenile delinquency. The central argument is that in recidivism, the factor that contributes the most is the trauma that requires to be handled to inform solutions and not a factor to inform an understanding of the causes. Therefore, in assessing the need, an RNR implementor should be able to determine the relevant factors that need to be addressed to stimulate the effective reduction of juvenile recidivism.
Therefore, interventions should be conscious of the gendered variations of these factors and handle them within a multidimensional framework. As highlighted, the limitations of the RNR in its rigidity, therefore, with significant lobbying by policymakers and professionals in criminal management to promote the evolution of the mode. The potential implication of the study was aimed at deriving potential gaps to revolutionize the juvenile delinquency concept and recidivism reduction. Through policy, there is the potential to establish a flexible framework that is integrated. The tool is posited to offer dynamism in addressing the challenge of stimulating better rehabilitative processes for juvenile delinquents to create a psychological resolution idealizing reduction rather than incorrigibility assessment.
Fairfax-Columbo, J., Fishel, S., & DeMatteo, D. (2019). Distinguishing “incorrigibility” from “transient immaturity”: Risk assessment in the context of sentencing/resentencing evaluations for juvenile homicide offenders. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 5(2), 132–142.
Stankovic, M., Simonovic, N., Bulatovic, J., Stojiljkovic, J., Hadzi-Pesic, M., & Nesic, M. (2019). The prediction of criminal recidivism in male juvenile delinquents. Psihologija, 52(3), 285–301.
Vitopoulos, N. A., Peterson-Badali, M., Brown, S., & Skilling, T. A. (2018). The relationship between trauma, recidivism risk, and reoffending in male and female juvenile offenders. Journal of Child &Amp; Adolescent Trauma, 12(3), 351–364.
Wylie, L. E., Clinkinbeard, S. S., & Hobbs, A. (2019). The application of Risk–Needs programming in a juvenile diversion program. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(8), 1128–1147.